Monthly Archives: May 2013

Lizzie Overton (@enliven_ed): Who’s leading the way?

This blog was originally published on the Enliven Education blog (@enliven_ed)

Lizzie Overton (@enliven_ed)

I came across a twitter ‘live chat’ run by #UkEdChat and hosted by @informed_edu on the theme of The Royal College of Teaching.  Having read through the archive I’m now indulging in some longer sentences to clarify my thinking.

The idea that a Royal College could bring greater respect and recognition for the profession, as well as protection from ill-informed political interference, would seem like a pretty uncontroversial premise upon which to build it.  But working out how to achieve this in practice is already provoking wide and sometimes heated debate.

One of the tweets that caught my eye was from @mberry who suggested that the concept of ‘collegiality’ could be a useful one where we might find ‘the authority of a master craftsman rather than a leader’s power’.

Whether we are teachers, senior managers, inspectors or teacher trainers we all have responsibility to guide and lead.  So perhaps the duty of a Royal College could be to set the standard for us by modelling the kind of leadership that Ken Robinson identifies in his televised TED talk this week where ‘command and control’ is substituted by ‘climate control’.

The College could demonstrate the difference between authoritative leadership and authoritarian leadership.   The former setting clear bounds within which creative, intellectual and innovative development could happen, and the latter limiting possibilities by building a culture of fear and resentment (of which we have plenty if the #ukedchat twitter stream is anything to go by).

It’s suggested by one of the contributors to the RCoT introductory booklet, that teachers should not get automatic entry as they did with the GTC but that instead “more experienced/accomplished teachers would be able to undergo ‘rigorous selection processes’ to gain the approval of the college through a tiered structure of memberships and fellowships.”

I would suggest that the College ought instead to operate a more inclusive approach to membership in the same way that any good non-selective state school would do.  It should welcome all those who’d like to belong and then work hard to build its own ‘climate of possibility’ where members are inspired to work within clearly defined values, high expectations and rigorous professional standards.

Free Education Campaign: The college of teachers as a champion of research

Reblogged from Pedagog In The Machine, aka the Free Education Campaign (@FreeEducation

Pedagog in the Machine (@_FreeEducation)

In the first post of this series, I examined what is apparently the primary purpose of the proposed College – to “boost the status of the teaching profession”. While this would be a welcome development, it is clear that this is not reason enough to establish a new College of Teachers. (As one commenter noted, teachers are already doing pretty well on the reputation front, coming second only to doctors in a 2011 Ipsos Mori poll).

In the second post, I examined what is undoubtedly the key question hanging over the proposed college – whether or not it will have a policy remit. To recap:

a)    It is currently unclear whether it will have a policy remit;

b)    It definitely should have one.

Perhaps the next clearest area of consensus in the essays is that the College should act as a conduit between academic education research and classroom practitioners – simplifying and sharing research findings, and potentially funding small-scale research projects.

It is difficult to foresee anybody taking issue with this. The gulf between academic research and classroom practice has been too great for too long, and any attempt to build bridges between the two – rather than building a ring road around “the blob”, which would appear to be Michael Gove’s preference – is a welcome development.

Dame McVittie suggests that the College should have a research arm, so that it can not only help simplify and disseminate research findings, but carry out research itself. However I would side more with Jonathan Shepherd, who thinks the College should refrain from carrying out research itself. In fact I believe that to do so would not only be unnecessary, but it would compromise the impartiality and independence of the College. Education research is inherently ideological: the questions you ask and the methods you use to resolve them place the researcher in positions which need to be defended against alternative viewpoints. For the College to undertake research itself would undermine its ability to establish itself as an impartial voice of reason. In addition it would save a tidy packet, and since it is currently unclear how the thing will be funded, it is probably best to resist the temptation to engage in research itself.

The work of the Teacher Development Trust in promoting enquiry-based approaches to CPD is an extremely valuable contribution to this debate, because it emphasises the importance of education research where it most matters: at the implementation end. It is not enough to just say “I use methods that have been shown to work in an RCT” – the focus has to be on whether teachers can show that they work for them, and for the youngsters in their care. Although the tone comes across as perhaps a shade strident at times (as in ‘The new body must demand evidence that teachers have undertaken activities that have explicitly improved the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms’), the intention is a good one and I support it whole-heartedly.

The inevitable ‘but’

Disseminating research findings and facilitating research-based CPD is one thing. But what about when government ministers promote policies that run counter to the evidence? As the Gove versus Reality website so lucidly highlights, the current administration has enjoyed a rather, er complicated relationship with research evidence to date. But it’s not just Gove – it has often been said that ministers appear more interested in policy-based evidence than evidence-based policy, and with good reason.

In reflecting on the relationship between the Royal College of Surgery and the Government, Jonathan Shepherd suggests that “responding constructively to government proposals… [is an] important and continuous challenge.” Here lies a potentially fatal tension in the remit of the college:

How can it promote the use of research evidence while simultaneously “responding constructively” to government proposals that frequently run counter to the evidence?

In his introduction, Andrew Hall says that the proposed College would “provide a structure where issues of mutual concern and interest can be shared and debated”. And so to the deliberately dastardly question that rounds off this third post:

Is this not the very definition of a talking shop?

Talking Shop

Prince’s Teaching Institute – Consultation

This is republished from the Prince’s Teaching Institute web page (@PrincesTeaching)

Prince’s Teaching Institute (@PrincesTeaching)

“In response to a unanimous request from over 30 members of the education community, the PTI is leading a Commission of senior individuals to explore the idea of a new member-driven College of Teaching.

Including Headteachers, representatives from universities, subject associations, teaching unions, the existing College of Teachers, the Royal College of Surgeons and other education stakeholders, the Commission is being supported in its work by a Committee of Teachers.  The teachers on the committee are drawn from across the spectrum, including Nursery, Primary, Special and Secondary schools, from across a range of subjects, and encompassing a range of experience – from Newly Qualified Teachers to Headteachers with over 30 years’ experience.

The Commission is preparing a Discussion Document that will set out a blueprint for a new, member-driven College of Teaching. It will be published shortly and we welcome your response to this document.

The Discussion Document will not provide a detailed operational model or implementation plan, nor will it seek to provide solutions for many of the issues that would arise from the establishment of any such body; rather it will provide a blueprint for a new member-driven College of Teaching, with some approximate financial parameters, in order to provoke a considered response from stakeholders. No plans for implementation have been made, nor timetable drawn up, as this will depend on many factors, including most importantly the response to the consultation.

To register your interest in the consultation, please e-mail:

On publication, we will e-mail you a copy of the Discussion Document and look forward to your response. This page will also be updated, so please visit again!


You may be interested in the following recent publications that provide perspectives on a new member-driven College of Teaching:

Great teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best, Vol 1 (House of Commons Education Committee report, 1 May 2012)

Great teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best, Vol 2 (House of Commons Education Committee report, 1 May 2012)

Great teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best, Vol 3 (House of Commons Education Committee report, 1 May 2012)

Government response to the Education Select Committee report into Great teachers: Attracting, training and retaining the best. (House of Commons Education Committee report, 11 July 2012)

Investigating the appetite for and remit of a new member-driven College of Teaching: An exploratory workshop (The Prince’s Teaching Institute, 24th September 2012)

Taking Teacher Development Seriously: A proposal to establish a National Teaching Institute for Teacher Professional Development in England (Tim Brighouse and Bob Moon, January 2013)

Education Today, Vol 63/1 Spring 2013 (College of Teachers)

Towards a Royal College of Teaching (Royal College of Surgeons, 30 April 2013)

Derek Bell & Ross McGill (@TeacherToolkit) – Raising the status of the teaching profession

This blog was originally posted on Ross McGill’s blog (@TeacherToolkit) and was originally written by Derek Bell for the College of Teachers

Few people, if any, would argue against the need for a high quality, high status teaching profession. Indeed in today’s complex world with all its pressures, constraints and opportunities, the imperative has probably never been greater. The question is: how can we raise the status of teaching as a profession?

Having witnessed the introduction, establishment and then abolition of the General Teaching Council for England (between 1998 and 2012), which set out two aims:


  1. “to contribute to improving standards of teaching and the quality of learning, and
  2. to maintain and improve standards of professional conduct among teachers, in the interests of the public.”

…we are now left in a quagmire with no firm hope for the teaching profession. Only undercurrent ripples of anticipation, ebb away in discussions at the higher-echelon levels of union, government and sundry committee boardrooms. But what about grassroot classrooms across the country?


As well as the GTCE, many other education quangos in 2010 were culled (full quangos list); including most recently, the ‘green-light’ to employ teaching staff without QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). The teaching profession has never needed a firm hand to stranglehold.

Without a nationally recognised and useful forum to shape and direct the profession, policies; pedagogy; teacher-training and professionalism will be left in the hands of the DfE to tyrannize. I recently said in a guest-post for @LabourTeachers (March 2013), that teachers need to Ignore the DfE: Teachers are doing it for themselves! and take control of their own.

Tim Brighouse and Bob Moon have also supported this through the New Vision for Education Group here, but I remain unconvinced. If current classroom practitioners do not sit on their committee or in other similar bodies; to help steer the vision for the profession, then championing the call for a Royal College of Teachers will remain a pipe-dream and nothing more. What chance have I got as a classroom practitioner to embrace yet another top-down structure?

Grass roots hand


Well, what I’d like to suggest, before leading into this guest-post by the Royal College of Teachers; is that any Royal College of Teachers should support the whole teaching profession; not just teachers in schools, but also HE lecturers, industrial trainers, tutors, peripatetic teachers; everyone!  From grass-roots up! And that we should all be part of that process, from its introduction and establishment, to its eventual custom that we hope may be embedded, into all teacher-speak across the land.

The College are running a Professional Development Masterclasses in May and June. This is a great opportunity for interested teachers to meet existing staff of The College. For booking information, you can find out more at this link.

Ladies and gentleman: Stand up and be counted; I give you, a national Royal College of Teachers!

(Foreward above by @TeacherToolkit)

Raising the status of the teaching profession – towards a royal college of teaching?

The launch on Tuesday (30th April) of the booklet – Towards a Royal College of Teaching: raising the status of the teaching profession – brings into the spotlight the discussions that have been going on in various places for some while. The purpose of the booklet, compiled by an editorial team led by Charlotte Leslie MP, a member of the Education Select Committee, is to examine the idea of a royal college of teaching. The wide range of contributions addresses many of the issues from different perspectives but all point in the same direction – a royal college has a great deal in its favour. Others agree.

Published 30th April 2013 - download here

Published 30th April 2013 – download here

Ministers in the DfE have indicated general support for the idea of a Royal College, but are very clear that any such development must come from the profession and be independent of government. However, if a Royal College comes from the profession, it should include teachers in all forms. Teachers are found in formal and non-formal settings including schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, businesses, factories, homes, military establishments and youth groups. A Royal College of Teaching should therefore represent and support the whole of the teaching profession, not simply teachers in school buildings.

Teacher Unions have also shown interest in the Royal College proposal. Indeed writing in the TES[1] Mary Bousted (General Secretary of the ATL) and Russell Hobby (General Secretary of the NAHT), included “A Royal College of Teaching, created and run by teachers,” as one part of their four-point plan for the future of the teaching profession.

“…work with the government, to promote teachers’ professional development…”

More recently the Academies Commission in its report[2] in January 2013 recommended that, “The DfE should pump-prime the establishment of a Royal College of Teachers that would be independent from, but work with the government, to promote teachers’ professional development, provide evidence to inform education policy, align practice and research and promote peer-to-peer collaboration.”

Independently, a group of head teachers asked the Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI) to host an exploratory workshop to discuss the idea. The key outcome of this workshop, was the proposal that the PTI act as honest broker to establish a group, to explore the potential and feasibility of setting up a Royal College or similar body. An independent Commission has now been established and it formally commenced work on 7 March 2013.

In parallel, the existing College of Teachers (COT) has adopted a very positive and proactive approach to the initiative and is contributing extensively to the debate in a variety of ways, including contributing to the publication of the book mentioned above and membership of the independent PTI Commission. It has made a clear statement of its own position on the idea of a royal college in a special edition of its journal Education Today – published March 2013, which also includes a series of articles that offer further perspectives on the role, a royal college might play in raising the status of teaching.

Discussion: “…the last thing we need at this, or indeed any stage, is fragmentation and the formation of splinter groups…”

Currently, these groups are in contact and are working together in order to stimulate discussion more widely and to explore possible models and the feasibility of such a body. This is important because the last thing we need at this, or indeed any stage, is fragmentation and the formation of splinter groups. Neither do we want to create another organisation that simply adds to the current crowded landscape.

To date, there is a long list of things that a Royal College ‘might do’, but we have to be clear, that it can’t do everything. Indeed, there are things that it should not do; specifically, activities that rightly sit with trades unions such as pay and conditions and other employment matters.

There is widespread agreement that it should promote the professionalism of teachers and, among other things:

  • ensure high quality professional learning;
  • provide stability through changes in political cycles;
  • promote evidence-based initiatives;
  • bridge the gap between classroom practice and research;
  • establish an authoritative voice on professional standards;
  • raise the status of teaching as a profession.

We know there are obstacles to overcome and setting up a Royal College will take time. We need to ensure that there is as wide a consultation as possible in order to ensure that, if a Royal College is established, it genuinely does come from the teaching profession.

So why not join in the discussions? As a start go to to access the booklet and provide feedback on the issues it raises and the ones it doesn’t!

Derek BellDerek Bell is a Professor of Education in The College of Teachers.

Derek Bell is a Professor of Education in The College of Teachers, having worked in schools, colleges and universities and being Chief Executive of The Association for Science Education.

You can follow the Royal College of Teachers at @CollegeOfTeach

Written by Derek Bell and edited by @TeacherToolkit.

The College of Teachers (@CollegeofTeach) – a statement

Reblogged from the College of Teachers website (@CollegeofTeach)

College of Teachers (@CollegeofTeach)

A statement from The College of Teachers on

“TOWARDS A ROYAL COLLEGE OF TEACHING: raising the status of the profession”

Since its inception in 1846, the College of Teachers (formerly the College of Preceptors) has strived, with some success, to promote the status of teaching as a profession. In today’s complex environment with all its pressures, constraints and opportunities the imperative for a high quality, high status teaching profession has never been greater.

It is for this reason that The College of Teachers strongly supports, and is actively participating in, the current discussions on the development of a royal college of teaching. In particular it has been pleased to contribute to the book – Towards a Royal College of Teaching, published 30 April 2013 – through membership of the editorial team and adding its voice to the contents.

Dr Raphael Wilkins (President of the College of Teachers) said “This book provides a wide- ranging set of views and insights into the challenge facing us all in developing a teaching profession for the 21st century and beyond. The book complements the articles in the latest edition of our own journal Education Today, which also includes a full statement of the College of Teachers’ approach to this debate.”

Matthew Martin (Chief Executive of The College of Teachers), in his contribution to the book, points out that “Teaching as a profession is unique. It is made up of experts in every subject imaginable who are simultaneously expert in the science of pedagogy and skilled in the art of teaching” and goes on to argue that a body such as a royal college “is vital for the long-term growth, health and independence of a profession.”

The debate has started; already a lively discussion is taking place and in the coming months there will be further developments, including the outcomes of the work of the independent commission convened by the Prince’s Teaching Institute.

“Ultimately there needs to be a coming together of the different parties because the last thing we need at this, or indeed any, stage is further fragmentation of the teaching profession” said Professor Derek Bell (one of the College of Teachers’ professors and Chair of the Professional Committee).

The College of Teachers is pleased to have contributed to the discussions so far and very much welcomes the opportunity to play its role in subsequent stages as the initiative develops.


1.    The College of Teachers ( was established in 1846 and received its Royal Charter in 1849 as the College of Preceptors – a name it kept until being re-launched as The College of Teachers by Supplemental Royal Charter in 1998. The College is believed to be the world’s oldest professional educational institute for teachers in continuous operation. From 1847, The College introduced accredited professional qualifications in the theory and practice of education, and went on to establish the first Professor of Education in 1873. In 1902, with other partners, The College established the London Day Training College which became the Institute of Education, University of London.

The College maintains a broad definition of teaching, and works across all sectors, phases and specialisms of education. The College has worked for the professionalisation of teaching for over 160 years and has accumulated technical expertise which has been accessed by the governments of several countries. The College awards professional qualifications in the UK and worldwide, both directly and through its 30 Centres in nine countries.

2.    Dr Raphael Wilkins (President of the College of Teachers) and Professor Derek Bell (one of the College of Teachers professors and Chair of the Professional Committee) were part of the editorial team led by Charlotte Leslie in producing the book Towards a Royal College of Teaching. Matthew Martin (Chief Executive of The College of Teachers) contributed one of the voices.

3.    Education Today is the journal of The College of Teachers and the latest edition published in March 2013 can be found at: 

4.    For further information please contact: Philip Oldershaw, Marketing Officer,, 020 7911 5536.


We are the UK’s professional educational institute for teachers. We support the teaching profession through networks of membership and qualifications.

Our members include primary, secondary and special educational needs teachers, lecturers, university staff, teaching assistants, industrial trainers, local authority managers and governors both in the UK and around the world. Many specialist associations, agencies, colleges and schools also belong to The College as Institutional Members.

Our qualifications range from attendance certificates through to doctoral level and are professional in nature, allowing everyone involved in education to have their professional achievement and expertise recognised and rewarded. As these qualifications are awarded under our Royal Charter they benefit from international recognition allowing their holders to move schools, local authorities, and even countries safe in the knowledge that their qualifications will be recognised.

Holding the 366th Royal Charter, issued by the Privy Council in 1849, we are run by our Members for our Members and strive to support improvements in standards of teaching and learning.



Laura McInerney(@miss_mcinerney) – Why Education Reform Needs Some Rules

This was reblogged from the edapt blog (@edaptuk) and written by Laura McInernery (@miss_mcinerney)

Laura McInerney (@miss_mcinerney)

“With the recent announcement of the proposed Royal College of Teaching we asked Laura McInerney for her views on the rules of education reform.  Laura was a teacher for 6 years in London and is now a fulbright scholar at University of Missouri and policy development partner at LKMco.

Last night I had a dream about a faceless nameless education secretary. In the dream I invited him to watch a play I was directing. The play was three hours long, but I assured him that despite length it was spectacular enough to be life-changing. As the play opened, the on-stage scene was elaborate – props, fabulous actors, tantalizing costumes – the politician looked eager. Then, just as the first actor began to speak, I called for a scene change. Lights off.  Rearrangement. Lights up. New props, actors, costumes. Again it looked great, again – as the first actor went to speak – I yelled “Scene change”. On and on this went dizzying process, after an hour, the politician stood in fury.

“This is ridiculous,” he said. “This story isn’t going anywhere. It has no purpose, I can’t make head nor tails of it. What makes you think I have three spare hours for such nonsense?”

The cast cackled. An actor stepped forward: “But this is what you and the others like you have done to teachers over and over again. And not just for three hours – for decades. Tell me, why should we put up with your nonsense?”

The simple answer to this question is that politicians are voted in to make decisions about monies and legislation across many areas, including education. We must put up with politicians’ nonsense because it’s a good idea to have a dedicated group of people be in charge, just as it’s a good idea to have one theatrical director. But if the politician, or the stage director, never lets things get going before starting all over again then the results are repeatedly unsatisfying.

Calls this week for a reimagined Royal College of Teaching part arose from such frustration. There is a feeling among teachers that people familiar with the profession need to be on hand, speaking out about issues, and moderating the whims of reform-zealous politicians. The report , “Towards a Royal College of Teaching”, suggests the new body could be responsible for setting stabilising codes and values that would underpin the teaching profession, and members of the College would be called to advise – and potentially moderate – zany education secretaries.

But without careful thought this advisory body runs the risk simply being seen as a ‘barrier’ to change, and without agreement on the processes for consulting with teachers via the Royal College (and processes by which the views can be ignored or compelled into policy), it would be all too easy for a future Government to denounce the new group as deluded and then ignore them.

So what sort of procedures could be created to ensure stability in education reforms? First,the government could introduce an independent Curriculum Review Board, selected by political parties but working independently, and who revisit the curriculum at pre-arranged intervals rather than when politically expedient.  Hong Kong looks thoroughly and carefully at each grade once every ten years – no more, no less. In doing so there is guaranteed time for teachers to understand curriculum changes, and to develop, improve and share their materials. Why couldn’t we do this here?

A second idea is getting an independent teaching body to write “reviews” of Government education policy documents, and – here’s the important bit – completing the Government to publicly respond. This mirrors the Education Select Committee process where cross-party MPs scrutinise education policies and require governments to respond to their criticisms. However, MPs usually lack specialist education expertise. A Royal College of Teaching (or other such body) could instead follow the example of the US  National Education Policy Center, who assess education reports published by “think tanks” commenting on their academic quality and rigour. Holes found would then need to be defended in a published Government response.

Finally – if these processes sound cumbersome or too likely to be overtaken by ideological zealots – how about something as simple as a “Reformer’s Manifesto”? After three decades of school reform under his watch, US educationalist Charles Payne’s wrote the book So Much Change, So Little TimeIn it he argues that reformers do damage when they constantly rip up prior programmes without due regard for what was positive in them.  He therefore wrote a School Reformer’s Pledge of Conduct urging politicians to follow maxims such as “do not to try to scale up prematurely” or always “give people realistic estimates of the time and money it takes to implement my program”.

But we can do even better than these platitudes. Surely we can sit down and think of a few golden rules for education reform that, if followed wisely, would make a big difference. That, if followed wisely, would stop the endless scenery change, would constrain the director and would – finally! – help us realise where the story is going.

Over to you: What should education secretaries be bound to pledge upon taking office? What rules would you like to see governing all education reforms?”

Miss Smith (@HeyMissSmith) – Oooh Shiny!

Reblogged from Miss Smith’s Splogs blog (@HeyMissSmith)

Miss Smith (@HeyMissSmith)

I must be one of the very few people in the known universe (tweacherverse) who is not leaping up and down right now at the thought of The Royal College of Teaching.
To be perfectly honest over the last few weeks I’ve been hoping it would go away. However, it has become abundantly clear that, like PRP, this little scheme is going nowhere. So today I researched a bit. The sources I went to, answered my questions of course, but me, being me, didn’t believe a word of it.
I am left with these questions:

What is it for? I mean really for?

Who will get funded to waltz off to its hallowed grounds?

Who is going to be running the thing?

What actually is it for? (Yes I know I wrote that twice).

Now, amongst all the spiel was some information, and amongst that, a hint of the truth.There is an all too familiar recent war cry resounding through this initiative; It is this:
“Teachers! Carpe diem! A golden moment of opportunity is before you!”
I yawned a little; It was a tired, irritated, little yawn.

This is what the Royal College of Distraction is really saying: The union addled teaching profession has lost its way; it has no idea about what methods work; no one takes teachers seriously; It’s time to sit up and show everyone how professional, how scientific how logicaland evidenced based it is.

Except we teachers haven’t lost our way. Most teachers just want to get on with their jobs without constantly being told they are failing children. The public do still take us seriously, despite the government’s best efforts to undermine and humiliate us. Experienced teachers don’t desperately need retraining. However lots of us would love to go back ten years and receive the kind of quality, local, relevant CPD, that our LEAs used to provide.

The RCoT is merely a milk bottle top glimmering in the sun, distracting us from the very REAL fight teachers have to retain any semblance of our hard fought for pay and conditions document. It is trying to make us forget the free market privateers who are seizing hold of our schools. It may stop us shouting so loudly that children should have a right to taught by qualified teachers.

The problems that propounders of the RCoT cite, like the solutions, have been made up, and made up by the same mythologising, twisting, propaganda machine, which is intent on actually deprofessionalising teachers.

And although there is lots of talk about it not being an arm of the government…

Let’s see who ends up being in charge.
Let’s wait and see who gets funded for sabbaticals out of school.
Let’s wait and see what the research it funds is used to prove.

Let’s wait…