Do You Want to be a Chartered Teacher?

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Some people are very excited about the new College of Teaching and, especially, its charter. This means that by accrediting various courses and other types of professional development it will be able to award (royal) chartered teacher status and thereby cement its role at the pinnacle of conferring the new ‘outstanding’ teacher status on the most deserving.

In Scotland a Chartered Teacher Programme which began in 2003 has been abolished, the Donaldson Report stated the following reasons:

The grade of chartered teacher was created with the intention of rewarding teachers who remained in the classroom and to simultaneously provide encouragement for main grade teachers at the top of their salary scale to engage in a robust, self-funded continuous professional development programme. The design intent was to recognise and reward excellence. To encourage participation in the Chartered Teacher Scheme two routes to chartered teacher status were created; one via accredited prior learning, the other on completion of twelve modules (for each two modules completed a salary increment is awarded).

As of May 2011, 1,216 teachers have attained chartered status and a further 2,800 are currently on the programme and have gained at least one module. Entry to the accreditation route to chartered status was ended in 2008.

While we received evidence that demonstrated the commitment and professionalism of many chartered teachers, the widely held view is that the existing cohort of chartered teachers does not singularly represent the best teachers in Scotland. The reasons for this are several; the means of entry to the scheme when it was first created and the self-selection process for entry did not provide a sufficiently robust means of screening applicants; also some of our very best teachers for a variety of reasons have not embarked on the route.

Until recently, self-selection without approval of a headteacher resulted in instances of headteachers not being aware that staff in their schools had applied for chartered teacher status. This has been revised recently and headteachers must now approve applications for staff to participate in the programme – albeit that this process is still rather light touch. Absence of specific duties attached to the role of chartered teacher means that in some instances, chartered teachers are paid more to undertake the same job they have always done with no improved outcomes for children and young people.

We heard evidence that there are barriers to participation in the Chartered Teacher Scheme in the form of finance and the time available to complete the modules. Thus some dedicated classroom teachers are unable to embark on the programme of study that would result in achieving chartered teacher status because of other commitments.

Local authorities have no means of controlling the cost of the Chartered Teacher Scheme because it is essentially self-selecting. Additional salary is, in some instances, paid to staff for little tangible benefit, and indeed we heard evidence that some chartered teachers would prefer that it were not known within their schools that they had achieved the status, lest expectations would rise that they should contribute more. We also heard some evidence that the scheme is seen as mainly academic and did not sufficiently recognise good classroom practice.

The responses to the Review’s call for evidence clearly demonstrate that there are mixed feelings amongst the education community about chartered teachers. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents felt the scheme should be retained, 37% felt it should be amended and 25% felt it should be discontinued.

We are of the view that the Chartered Teacher Scheme, while laudable in its aims, has not delivered against its stated objectives. The available evidence does not show that the ‘best’ teachers have remained in the classroom rather than pursuing promoted posts – indeed promoted post holders have commented to us that theirs is a vital role and should not be equated with not wanting to teach or being inferior teachers. Furthermore, the overall contribution made to education in Scotland by chartered teachers does not represent a good investment, due mainly to the lack of any formal role post qualification.

Taking all the evidence into account, we believe that the Chartered Teacher Scheme should now be discontinued. Our view is that despite positive steps such as the introduction of the revised Standard by the GTCS and notwithstanding the excellent practice we are sure some chartered teachers bring to schools, the concept of chartered teacher has not worked successfully since it was introduced by the Teachers’ Agreement. The model by which individuals are able to enter the system without sufficient gate keeping regarding their appropriateness has damaged the credibility of the Chartered Teacher Scheme. Similarly the lack of clarity as to the role of chartered teachers has made it dif cult for both local authorities and the teachers themselves to make the most of their skills.

I am sure those involved in the setting up of the College are aware of these problems and will wish to address them as there are some clear questions that a teacher might want answers to before they commit to joining the College of Teaching:

If the existing cohort of chartered teachers does not singularly represent the best teachers in Scotland how will chartered status in England ensure that it does?

Will headteachers…  approve applications for staff to participate in the programme ? If so will Headteachers coerce staff into joining the College, if not, will there be much point in joining the college if the Headteacher doesn’t think you will achieve chartered status? If the Headteacher doesn’t want a teacher to apply for chartered status how much of their free time will a teacher have to devote to attaining chartered status?

Will there be specific duties attached to the role of chartered teacher?

If there are not specific duties will it mean that in some instances, chartered teachers are paid more to undertake the same job they have always done with no improved outcomes for children and young people?

What will be done to ensure there are no barriers to participation in the Chartered Teacher Scheme in the form of finance and the time available to complete the modules? 

How can dedicated classroom teachers [who] are unable to embark on the programme of study that would result in achieving chartered teacher status because of other commitments be sure of their future in the profession, or will they become looked down as second class teachers?

And as the overall contribution made to education in Scotland by chartered teachers does not represent a good investment, due mainly to the lack of any formal role post qualification.

What formal role, if any, will chartered teachers in England have? If so, is there any evidence that teachers want this role, if not will it be a good investment?

I look forward to seeing if any answers to these concerns are forthcoming.

 

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10 thoughts on “Do You Want to be a Chartered Teacher?

  1. tonyparkin

    A timely and salutary tale indeed, and one it would be foolish not to learn from.

    But as the well-known Irish joke goes ‘Ah, to be sure, if it’s there you want to be going, you don’t want to be starting from here’. Any attempt to directly link a teacher’s salary directly to them having some form of charter or certificate should indeed be resisted, and is so flawed a concept I am surprised our usually advanced educational thinkers north of the border went along with such a scheme.

    Nor should any form of duties, perks or direct benefits accrue to the teacher who undertakes the sort of structured professional development that would hopefully be part of the framework generated by a College of Teaching. As with other professions, the CPD framework from such a College would be wide-ranging, and addressing all aspects of professional advancement, from enhanced subject knowledge to behaviour management, from pastoral care to leadership capability. Achieving such qualifications should indicate a teacher’s increased capability, and register them more eligible for career advancement through the existing channels, not be a cynical way of obtaining more pay for the same work.

    At present the CPD arena is a confused mess of chancers, opportunists, half-baked HE courses and pointless INSET – but with some real gems and genuine opportunities buried amongst it. I would love to see a College of Teachers using detached and professional judgment identifying the wheat from amongst the chaff, and establishing a CPD framework that would be widely recognised both within and outside the profession. This should do a great deal to help the teaching profession gain the respect we see given to other professions that have their own Colleges and professional standards-setting bodies.

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    1. Martin Robinson Post author

      Hi Tony,

      Thank you for replying. Do you know if what you have written here is what those who are setting up the college are thinking?

      You are suggesting there should be no direct link to salary, so the motivation to become a chartered teacher will falter on this point, especially if the teacher is required to a. spend a lot of time on becoming a chartered teacher and/or b. some of their own money.

      You then suggest that the qualifications accrued in the pursuit of chartered status should indicate a teacher’s increased capability, what qualifications do you mean and what evidence is there that these qualifications add to a teacher’s capability? Are teachers without the qualifications you’re talking about less capable in all cases than those with these qualifications?

      You suggest that the qualifications might make them more eligible for career advancement, in other words if you want to get chartered teacher status the motivation to get more money will be only satisfied if you then get promotion, which, before the status you might have been able to get anyway without the extra time and money.

      What you say about the CPD arena is interesting: “A mess of chancers, opportunists, half-baked HE courses and pointless INSET…” What criteria would the college of teaching use to ensure “detached and professional judgment identifying the wheat from amongst the chaff…” Will this all be done at once for existing courses and who will do this? As people outside the teaching profession will be being judged, their omission could lead to legal action especially if the criteria for satisfying the college is not clear. I would expect it can’t be clear, and certainly that as it won’t all be done at once and can’t be done well, that this won’t be an easy thing to sort out at all.

      Are chartered accountants more respected than teachers?

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      1. suecowley

        Chartered accountants are a specific type of accountant. There are also management accountants, forensic accountants, and so on. Each type of qualification has its own route, involving several years of post graduate study and several sets of difficult exams. You end up belonging to a specific professional body (e.g. CIMA, etc.) I’m not sure this is what is intended here?

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      1. Elizabeth Coppard

        A difficult question to answer at the moment since it is a relatively new status and like anything will need time to become embedded in a professional system. What follows in my answer to your question is an intensely personal response and should be appreciated as such.

        I hope in the future, when it becomes more widely known, it will be able to tell a prospective employer or similar about a level of competence, interest, ability, knowledge, – ‘pro-activeness’ – if you like- that no other qualification etc can – it should stand alongside other chartered statuses e.g. chartered engineer

        Fo me it recognised the huge personal effort I had put into my own professional development over very many years. It made me feel valued in a way I had never been during my extremely varied career.

        Personally it gave me a confidence I had never had before which finally spurred me on to apply for the PhD funded studentship I now have at Oxford Brookes University to research an area of chemistry education at the primary/secondary transition.

        I hope that helps!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Martin Robinson Post author

        It helps, and is very personal and in no way do I want to decry that. Well done! I became an (early) AST and it, too, gave me some similar experiences/feelings that you describe, not all by any means.

        In what way is someone who has not gone down the route you describe missing out and, some would say, more importantly, are the kids being taught by the non-chartered science teacher at a disadvantage ?

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