If teachers want to have a voice, we have to start somewhere
I have been following the beginnings of the Chartered College of Teaching (CCT) closely – from inception to acceptance of its first members. Initially I was sceptical about whether it would add to the professional life of a science teacher like me. Science teachers already receive support from organisations like the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Association for Science Education and the Institute of Physics – do we really need another professional body?
A year ago, I attended the Talking Science Education debate at the ASE annual conference, where the issue of setting up a professional body for teaching was discussed.
I was particularly interested in the experiences of Rachel Tuffin, who was involved in setting up the College of Policing. She was honest about the issues and limitations of such a new professional body. It was certainly something that added to the professionalism of policing, but it was not a solution to all the issues and had created some itself.
I had to ask myself if knowing that a college of teaching would not solve all the issues in our system was a good enough of a reason not to get behind it.
I came away with a more realistic idea of what a college of teaching could achieve. I had to ask myself if knowing that a college of teaching would not solve all the issues in our system was a good enough of a reason not to get behind it.
At that conference I heard Angela MacFarlane, the first CEO of the CCT, say, ‘If you want autonomy, you have to take it. No one is going to give it to you’. It was then I realised I would support the college. If teachers want to have a voice, we have to start somewhere.
I have gained immensely from the connections that being part of the Association for Science Education has given me. And even when I don’t benefit directly, I see the how my membership of the Institute of Physics supports activities like the Stimulating Physics Network and reports like It’s different for girls. I believe a professional organisation for the whole education sector can help to support teachers, too.
I also hope the CCT, which will award Chartered Teacher status, will encourage teachers to take more control of their professional learning. I am a Registered Scientist and many of my colleagues are Chartered Science Teachers, either through the Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Biology or the Association for Science Education. Having your professional activities assessed by an impartial, expert panel every year to maintain this status is something I welcome.
So on 18 January, I decided to commit more of my own money to get behind the Chartered College of Teaching. That evening I attended a launch event in Bristol and met Dame Alison Peacock, the current CEO, who spoke wonderfully about her thoughts for the college, then took feedback about what the room though the college could add to the education landscape.
I don’t believe that the Chartered College of Teaching will have a large and immediate effect on the many difficult issues facing teachers. But I want to think that by contributing to its founding I am playing a part in building a better future for the profession.