This Q&A responds to questions asked about the proposal put forward for the College of Teaching. It is designed only to clarify the facts about what is currently proposed. It is fully recognised by the current group of proposers that as the College is established, its future leadership chosen democratically by the membership of teachers will need to re-examine a great deal of this detail and that the proposal made and the answers given here will not in any way bind the future College. We hope, however, that in order to advance the debate and to avoid misleading comment, it is helpful to clarify here what is actually proposed.
The proposal put forward draws on the more detailed work carried out by the Commission established by the Prince’s Teaching Institute. That work went into significant detail in order to inform business planning. In places, the Claim Your College proposal explicitly departs from the PTI work as a result of further work, thinking and consultation. Elsewhere, the proposal assumes the detail set out in the Commission’s Blueprint document.
Q: Who can be a member?
A: Full (i.e. chartered) Membership is achieved through demonstrating exemplary practice, learning, knowledge and professional development as a teacher. The proposals are developed with classroom teachers in mind. We have followed the principle that the College should not occupy spaces where other bodies already exist, so the proposed scope covers Early Years, 4 to 16 plus sixth forms. However, the proposals clearly allow that teachers working in other sectors (e.g. teachers and trainers working in vocational areas in FE) could achieve the standards ultimately set by the College through their practice in those settings. It would be for future members to decide whether to extent the College’s remit to these areas, by mutual consent with other bodies.
Full Membership confers voting and decision-making rights on all those achieving the standards, admitted to Membership and maintaining good professional status and standing.
Q: What happens to your membership if you leave the classroom?
A: As in other professions, we would expect that as long as a Member maintains their commitments to the College and its professional standards, membership once achieved is retained. Membership is a professional status not an occupational qualification or occupational tie. By analogy, a Chartered Accountant who moves into management consultancy or project management or becomes a finance director or chief executive would wish to maintain his or her professional standing. In these roles, they would also remain bound by the professional standards and expectations of their profession as long as they maintained that membership. The same would apply in teaching, so that those moving into management positions or working in allied professions would expect to keep their professional status and would remain bound to the same standards.
Q: How long would it take to achieve full membership/how demanding is it?
A: We envisage that it will be demanding to achieve full membership. Just as engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants, actuaries and others spend the first part of their working lives working towards full professional status, so these proposals assume that it would typically take teachers around 4 years to achieve full chartered status. Increasing the expectation of professional training, development and support in the early years of a teacher’s career is a core part of these proposals.
Q: How would teachers and others become involved in the College before they achieve full membership?
A: The original PTI Blueprint envisaged 3 levels of membership: Fellow, Member and Associate. A Fellow is a particularly distinguished teacher, who has demonstrated teaching excellence over an extended period. This status is about professional standing as a teacher and teaching skill, not management position in a school (though clearly it is open to all Members who can meet the standards). Those working towards Chartered (i.e. full member) status would be Associate members.
In some other professions there is also a wider ‘Affiliate’ status. This can be open to a wider group of allied occupations and professions. We think that this could be particularly useful in teaching. There are many people with an interest in education, who teach others as part of a wider professional role or who would otherwise benefit from access to the resources and knowledge of the College, but whose role would not allow them to demonstrate the standards for full membership. It is proposed that these people could become Affiliates of the College. Affiliates would not qualify for post-nominals or have voting rights, but for a lower fee could have access to appropriate resources and support from the College.
Q: How will the initial stages work when highly experienced teachers are looking for entry? Will everyone have to wait 4 years for full membership?
A: The Blueprint recognises that the current workforce includes many highly experienced and professional teachers, who are likely to be able to evidence that they have met the standards required for full membership more quickly than four years. We expect that four years will be the typical time taken for new entrants to the profession to be able to evidence that they have met the standards. The new College will want both to maintain its high standards and avoid unnecessary barriers to entry for current classroom teachers who have shown exemplary professional knowledge, practice and professional development over a number of years. We expect the new College to consult on how best to achieve this balance. The costings underpinning the proposal assume, however, that some teachers achieve full membership more rapidly at the outset, until a steady state is achieved after a number of years.
Q: How will teachers influence the initial standard-setting process when there are few full members?
A: It is assumed that the initial standard-setting process will reach out well beyond the full membership to other practising teachers. The Associate Membership of teachers working towards chartered status is likely to be a particularly important constituency. Similarly, we believe it will be necessary to give Associate Members a voice in determining appointments to the governance and standards-setting bodies of the College in the early years, until a critical mass is achieved.