The Chartered College today announced that it would be self-funding from March 2020, in time for the end of its current four-year grant from the government. Its membership numbers now exceed 30,000 (although this falls short of the 40k target by March 2020).
The increase in paying members shows the sector’s need for guidance and advocacy when it comes to its professional development. The manifesto sets out the organisation’s four goals: improving the quality of CPD, improving job satisfaction, ensuring the profession is research-informed and establishing career-pathways focused on the classroom. We take a look at the first goal, which arguably informs the remaining three; CPD.
The manifesto is the Chartered College’s pledge and is based on responses from 1000 of its members. One particularly attention-grabbing recommendation is that there should be a national expectation for teachers to undertake regular CPD, in line with models from the medicine, engineering and law sectors. CPD points (from quality-assured providers) should count towards official qualifications like Chartered Teacher Status or a Master’s (which it calls for teachers to be supported to work towards).
Sensibly, rather than simply piling this on to already high workloads, it calls for teachers to be entitled to a specific amount of CPD per year during school time, instead of relying on twilight sessions or training during the holidays. It also calls for CPD to take place regularly and over longer periods of time, with teachers given enough time for reflection and discussion with colleagues in their region. This makes a lot of sense; teaching can be a highly pressurised job and the time for reflection, along with the opportunity to build collaborative and supportive links with peers, would undoubtedly help to offset some of the stresses of being a teacher.
The call for CPD to be more teacher-led is also a sensible one. That’s not to say that education experts don’t have something good to say. I’ve heard – and thoroughly enjoyed hearing – Ken Robinson speak a number of times and not only do I find it difficult to imagine anyone disagreeing with him, I’ve seen how he inspires teachers. That his TED talk has the most views of all time is telling, and for anyone who hasn’t watched it, do – it’s still current now. But there’s a difference between an inspirational talk and CPD. Sometimes it’s the operational and practical guidance that can make the biggest difference to workloads, and to a teacher’s overall perception of their role.
Hopefully policy-makers will pay attention to this. If you take a country like Finland, whose education levels have been the envy of many developed countries for some time and where spending per pupil is relatively low, it is how teachers are valued and respected that drives attainment. It may also address the current epidemic of teacher shortages. The profession is held in the same esteem as medicine and the law. Taking the steps that the Chartered College laid out would bring our country closer to this, showing that we value teachers and that we want to support them in the vital work that they do. It would be us putting our money where our mouths are, and not before time.