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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.



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…

Free Education Campaign: Professional autonomy is there for the taking (Part 1)

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

Pedagog in the Machine (@_FreeEducation)

The news of plans to establish a College of Teaching – or rather to put rocket boosters under the existing one – is welcome indeed. The collection of essays published last week is both considered and inspiring, as have been some of the responses – including the revolutionary idea of asking children what they think (!)

Perhaps what is most surprising and welcome is the sheer unanimity with which this idea has been embraced by so many different organisations and interest groups. Amid the increasingly bellicose and hysterical discourses that surround education, the stars have aligned and an ocean of calm has appeared. It feels a bit like when the class goes quiet and a kid goes “somebody say something, this is freaking me out”. Or the Christmas Day game of football in No Man’s Land perhaps.

We should probably not examine this fragile harmony too intently, lest we shatter it with our gaze. There is a lovely sense of momentum to the whole thing, and it would appear that we are uniquely poised to bring about a step change in how our education system runs its affairs.

This undoubtedly is a *good thing*. However, as a number of the authors point out, it is vitally important for this new organisation to be – not just to feel, but actually be – owned by teachers themselves. The Select Committee report stated that in order ‘to be successful, the impetus for such a body must come from the profession itself.’ Well, so far the impetus appears mainly to have come from the impressive but distinctly not-a-teacher Charlotte Leslie MP, and as Debra Kidd has pointed out, teachers’ views were notable mainly for their absence from last week’s collection of essays.

So it would appear it’s already a bit late for ‘impetus’. However there is still a lot at stake, and we must take care not simply to wave the flag of approval (or weary dismissal – especially that) with one hand as we mark books with the other. (Any excuse to not do the marking).

Key questions remain as to how the College will be organised, how it will be funded, and in particular the extent of its remit – none of which is currently very clear.  Which must mean they are to some extent up for discussion. As such it is important that teachers engage critically at every stage of this process, to ensure that this does not become just another thing that is “done to us”. As we repeatedly tell the kids – getting what you want is all in the planning.

What follows is the first part of a response to the latter of these questions: what will be the extent of its remit? I will follow up the other points in subsequent blog posts – one for each night of this week. These musings are intended as the basis for further debate, rather than a final word on the matter. To serve this aim, some of what follows is intentionally provocative.

What will be the extent of the College’s remit?

Part 1: Status anxiety

The subtitle of last week’s report is ‘Raising the Status of the Profession’, and this message comes across clearly in a number of the essays. For example, Charlotte Leslie suggests that the college should “promote and protect the status of the profession” and “enhance the prestige of the profession”. Striking a similar chord, Andrew Hall declares that “teaching deserves higher recognition”, and that the College should “promote the quality of teaching” and “enhance public perceptions about the profession” to ensure that teachers’ “collective professionalism is recognised”. It would be “a guardian for teaching standards that maintains confidence in the quality of teaching”.

This is all very agreeable. The problem is that this development is taking place on the watch of a coalition government that has raised and lowered the status of the profession more times than Tower Bridge. First teachers needed a 2:2 or higher; then ex-soldiers were to be fast-tracked into the classroom (what could go wrong with that idea?); then all teachers would need a masters; except those that don’t even need QTS; then they need a GCSE grade B maths… it’s all so bewildering, when I tell people I’m a teacher I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to do so with a sense of pride or apology.

There is a lucid passage on this matter in the essay by Chris Keates, which is worth quoting in full:

The de-professionalisation of teaching, resulting from the policy agenda of the coalition government, must therefore represent a matter of profound concern for all those with a stake in ensuring that the highest standards of educational provision continue to be established in our schools. The removal of the requirement for teachers in state-funded schools to possess Qualified Teacher Status, considered alongside the effective deregulation of teaching, serve to highlight the current government’s conceptualisation of teaching as a ‘craft’, learned simply through mimicking the practice of others, rather than as a complex professional activity.

These considerations emphasise the fact that meaningful work to establish a Royal College of Teaching cannot precede action to place teaching on an appropriately regulated, professional footing in all sectors, both state-funded and independent. Rather than enhance the status of the profession, attempts to establish a royal college without dealing with the regulation and accreditation of teaching would simply serve to diminish the standing of teaching in comparison with other professions.

I have nothing to add to this at this stage – however it would certainly be interesting to get a sense of how widely this is felt throughout the profession.

Alison Peacock outlines a framework for how membership of the college might work, and suggests that teachers should not get automatic entry as they did with the GTC (which seems a bit counterproductive if the point of the college is to represent the interests of teachers and children and to share good practice as widely as possible… more on this later in the week). Rather, 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.

All of which seems perfectly reasonable, while leading irresistibly to the intentionally incendiary question that concludes this opening post:

Is the proposed College merely an elaborate mechanism for handing out chufty badges?

Chufty Badge


Debra Kidd (@debrakidd) – The view from the classroom

A similar version of this blog is available on Debra Kidd’s website (@debrakidd)

Debra Kidd imageLittle more than a month ago, I penned a letter of resignation to my Headteacher.  After 20 years of teaching, I decided I’d had enough. I had watched in dismay as colleagues tied themselves up in knots trying to please Ofsted, or second guess what new initiative might be coming their way. I’d dodged children, asking in bewilderment ‘but what will the exam be like?’ because there is not yet an answer – that football is still being kicked around. I was weary of having to take data from Oxford and the Sutton Trust to parents’ evenings to try to explain in five minutes, why the Daily Mail is wrong about their child being failed by a witless profession. In the end, instead of resigning, I wrote an open letter to the Secretary of State outlining my distress and frustration at the belittlement of the teaching profession, and the lack of clarity of information being used to influence key decisions about curriculum content and pedagogy. It was a letter, that to date, well over 4000 people have added their names to. Parents, governors and teachers, from private, state and interestingly, international sectors, signed in their thousands. They, it turned out, felt the same way that I did. I was hungry for a professional body that would sit above party politics, acting in the best interests of teachers AND children; drawing from best practice; best research; best aspects of humanity to ensure an excellent education system. And so were they.

A week later, I delivered my letter to Parliament and found myself thrust into an uncomfortable limelight on national television and on the front pages of a national newspaper. What a relief it was to come home – back to my classroom. But I knew that it was important to keep momentum going and I searched for ways to channel this frustration into a positive outcome. Writing for ‘The Guardian’; organising a conference; championing attempts to reframe and reclaim insults – we took up Mick Water’s cry for an Education Spring, and instead of being ‘enemies of promise’, vowed to be ‘anenomes of promise’ – a little colour in a gloomy picture. So when the collated essays and thoughts on the concept of a Royal College for Teaching, commissioned by AQA, was published on April 30th, I had two thoughts:-

  1. Hurray.
  2. Where is the teacher?

There were some brilliant essays in there. Hopeful, ambitious, unifying thinking by wonderful minds. But not one of them a teacher.  When disappointed, I’ve learned, you have two choices:-

  1. Moan.
  2. Act.

Here is my action. It is a reaction.

It is vital to gather and garner teacher opinion in this initiative. Not only because the Royal College, would after all, be ours. But also because every working day, we stand in front of children, trying our best to help them to secure positive futures. Their voices can be heard through us.  So when I volunteered to write this response, I thought I had better ask them what they thought, since anything to do with teachers has a direct impact on them. We spent an hour – all neatly fitting into our work on democracy – considering the following three questions and pulling our conversations together into a set of queries and ideas. I’m glad I started in this way. I had a lot of ideas, but theirs made me really think. It’s worth bearing in mind that they are 11 years old.

Our first question was ‘What is a good teacher?’ There were lots of responses to this, many revolving around ideas of fairness and reliability, but also some unexpected ones (spelling errors and all):-

  • A good teacher pushes you to your limits, even when you think you can’t get there
  • Encourages you when you’re mentally down
  • Bilds (sic) on your opinions
  • Makes sure that education is not just based on facts and figures – it needs to be more relevant to the individual (I talked about this with my Dad)
  • Makes sure that when they teach you, the lesson stays in your head
  • Captures our attention and keeps it
  • Is kind and can support you through the hard times of your life
  • Understands how children’s brains work
  • Believes in you and cares about your life outside of school

It became clear from their feedback that it was as important to them that their teacher cared for them and had faith in them as it was that they had good subject knowledge or skill. They want to be seen wholly and not partially. This was a key theme too in the next question – ‘What is a good learner?’ Other researchers have noted that frequently, children equate learning with good behaviour and this class was no exception, but they also added:-

  • Has a clear plan – like knowing that at the end of university, there will be an apprenticeship or some training
  • Contributes and is confident
  • Doesn’t take school for granted
  • Has a positive mindset
  • Someone who makes good use of the resources they have
  • Someone who puts their mind to it and believes in themselves – an active learner, not passive
  • Someone who sets themselves goals

Finally I asked them how they would like to be ‘measured’ in an ideal world so that they could move forward into adult life, thinking that they had a chance to show what they were capable of:-

  • We want to be judged on our personality and social skills and not just by exam results.
  • Parents and teachers are sometimes hypocritical when they don’t allow us to make the same mistakes that they made.
  • Being compared to other people makes you feel small and stupid.
  • Spend more time learning and less time taking tests.
  • Why can’t we be judged on what we do and make a portfolio at the end of school to show people when we want to do a degree?
  • I want to be judged on what I do over a whole year and not on one day when something might have gone wrong.

How might a Royal College of Teaching address these concerns? They are valid and it is important they are considered.

The role of Ofsted

I have used this line before, but I’ll use it again. Unless Ofsted is reformed, we will have a profession continuing to participate in a game of football in which they all run around after the referee instead of the ball. No-one starts teaching with the motivation of pleasing Ofsted, but it’s where most of us end up. Instead of passing the ball, carefully from one player to another, towards a common goal, we run around asking the ref what the rules are. Ofsted should be accountable to the profession, offering reassurances that they are providing consistency and support where necessary. The organisation should be positive, not punitive. To get all AfL about it – there should be an ‘Even Better If’ approach and recommendations for improvements based on how the school provides for the whole child, looking way beyond data. This is why I find myself nodding vigorously when I read Alison Peacock’s comments about HMI inspectors being appointed by the Royal College.


I think those 11 year olds offered a strong rationale for reform of examinations. A Royal College should work with Ofqal in shaping and organising our assessment structures based on best practice from around the world, not on our own perceptions from supposed ‘golden eras’ in the past. As a teacher, it is very hard to resist teaching to the test. It is tempting to spend hours telling children how many minutes to spend on each question, how to break the question down – what the criteria means etc. and in the process completely lose sight of the beauty and wonder of the subject. There must be a better way.

A Royal College could explore how, for example in the International School system, the Primary and Middle Years’ programmes offer an educational philosophy which builds a child’s curiosity and capacity to investigate, leading them into the demanding levels of independence required for the IB. There is too little continuity in our education systems because too harsh a spotlight is cast on the gateway at the expense of the path.

CPD and Teacher Development

Pathways for learning, progression, transition; all rooted in the holistic interests of the child would be the domain of a Royal College, and understanding children would underpin the foci for training and developing teachers. Teachers will emerge, whose CPD is relentlessly focused on what children need and how best to provide for those needs. The college should discourage and not license courses which capitalise on teacher fear – ‘How to be Outstanding’; ‘Preparing for Ofsted’ and the like.

A Royal College should, first and foremost, commit itself to making plain and available for teachers, practical and accessible research. It would need to link to and register with gatekeeper libraries like Athens or Shibboleth, as Universities do, providing on line access to closed journals, but more needs to be done here. The College needs to liaise with HEFCE, negotiating the criteria for the REA, which at the moment offers no incentive whatsoever for an academic to reach out to the profession through books and periodicals. Only international journals matter, and it would seem, the more obscurely written, the better.

We also need to take care, since we are dealing with complex and vulnerable human beings, not to get too ontological about things. Some valuable research is qualitative and the desire to prove and measure should not over-ride the notion that sometimes, the very things we value most are those which are impossible to measure. Narratives and stories can be powerful tools for change. It would be the role of the College to communicate and collate these narratives of hope.

A Royal College should have at its heart, a philosophy of positivity and hopefulness. It should not be a punitive organisation with a role to punish or banish a teacher – this is the role of governing bodies and ultimately, government. We should set out, from the beginning, to be an organic institution which promotes growth. Where there is weakness, provide scaffolding. We should apply the same learning principles to educators as we do to those they educate.


Finally I would say, as I finish this, glancing anxiously at a pile of marking, that teachers are time poor but idea rich. We need to find ways of effectively and quickly gathering the ideas of teachers together. Across the country, there are teaching and learning networks, cluster groups, teachmeets and the like. A successful strategy might be to ask all those groups to add, just before the AOB of any meeting, a ‘Notes for the Royal College’ item and for that item to be emailed to a central contact. Information needs to be expedient and accessible: as I have learned in recent weeks, the twitter community is a speedy and powerful conveyer of communication.

I am excited by the prospect of a Royal College of Teaching. I am proud to stand in support of it and will do all I can to assist. I believe it could achieve a level of consistency and trust in education that has not been seen for decades, if ever. It will raise the status and morale of the profession – if it truly represents us –  and, most importantly of all, it will give the children of this country some stability and security. And that cannot come quickly enough.

Debra Kidd
AST for Pedagogy
Saddleworth School