Mapping the future of teacher development – in discussion with The Chartered College

Ali Messer from Roehampton University writes: The Chartered College of Teaching is a new organisation taking the teaching profession in England in a new direction – and not before time. Children in our schools need teachers who are trusted as independent professionals Teaching is difficult and the Chartered College, like Teacher Education Exchange, is currently developing proposals for a ‘long, thin’ model of professional development, where teachers have time to develop ‘the habits of mind and capacity for informed, scholarly judgement’. We want to support any organisation promoting a ‘long life teaching profession’ (one of our four design principles), and Alison emphasised the strong start the College has made in reaching out to many other organisations enabling professional development, such as subject associations. The joined-up thinking shown by the College has the potential to reach out to many hard-pressed teachers. We want to work with anyone interested in making teaching more sustainable, with less talk about purely bureaucratic forms of leadership and more action against the kind of negative forms of accountability that can corrode teacher professionalism.

Earlier this month we met with Alison Peacock, the first CEO of the Chartered College along with her colleague Julia Flutter. Alison made it clear that teachers themselves must take responsibility for designing the professional pathways that would support teachers in acquiring the expertise necessary for maintaining excellence in teaching, and that this was the best way to secure the best outcomes for children and young people. So far so good: we agree that professional education should be profession-led (another of our four design principles). The definition of what teachers need to know set out by the College is well worth reading:

We also discussed what roles universities might play in the new landscape set out by the College. We think that professional education should be profession-led because teachers, from the start, have ideas about what the purpose of schooling is and what a good education might look like. Whether they join the profession from another career or direct from university, new teachers need to consider the questions we have posed in our first pamphlet, such as ‘who and what they are teaching and to what ends’, (part of our other design principles about teachers shaping a broad and balanced curriculum with their local communities, not despite them). Although conversations about these questions occur in all great schools, university education departments have much to offer in ensuring that ethical deliberations form a part of all initial and continuing professional education. Schools are not always easy places in which to learn as a new teacher, and without university partnerships, valuable opportunities to make sense of experience can be missed.

When we met Alison and Julia, we shared the work we are doing at conferences and in university seminars to open up discussion within the higher education sector about teacher development, and Alison shared her vision of teaching profession able to represent itself confidently and authoritatively, to government and to the public, via the College. As Alison said, we found ourselves ‘in danger of complete agreement’ on key principles. We plan to follow developments in the College via @CharteredColl, and invite you to find out more about our seminar and conference series by following @TeachEdXchange