Union view: Voice

Ian Toone Principal Officer (Education), Voice: the union for education professionals iantoone@voicetheunion.org.uk
Ian Toone
Principal Officer (Education), Voice: the union for education professionals
iantoone@voicetheunion.org.uk

“We also see a College of Teaching as having a deep sense of moral and intellectual purpose, driven by members…”

Voice welcomes the vision that a College of Teaching should function to raise the status of teaching as a profession and to promote public confidence in and respect for teachers.  We can see many benefits deriving from this initiative.   A College of Teaching would help to galvanise and unify the teaching profession.   It would also seek to raise aspirations, standards and morale.  This is essential as, currently, morale is very low among teachers, and professional esteem has been weakened as a consequence of an increase in public indifference and, in some quarters, disdain towards the teaching profession.

Many other professions have bodies similar to the College of Teaching to represent them and promote their professional interests.  Teaching has suffered because of the stranglehold that government has had on education and the lack of a united member-driven body which can support and steer the profession through the maelstrom of political interference and the concomitant, and seemingly relentless, changes to the education system.

 A College of Teaching would not usurp the important role played by trade unions in safeguarding and promoting members’ employment rights, but would focus on setting, promoting and advancing high standards of teaching, alongside complementary initiatives in regard to initial teacher education, continuing professional development and educational research.

We also see a College of Teaching as having a deep sense of moral and intellectual purpose, driven by members.  Given the essential importance of education to civilisation, democracy and effective citizenship, it is staggering that there is no single cohesive body which can speak on behalf of the profession.

Nevertheless, we recognise that many teachers have some misgivings about this project.  There is some fear that a College of Teaching might fall into the same traps which plagued the erstwhile General Teaching Council for England, in terms of emphasising regulatory functions over everything else and imposing itself on the profession rather than showing a genuine interest in the welfare of teachers.

There is also considerable confusion and misgiving over exactly how a College of Teaching would operate, how it would really benefit teachers and how it might differ, not only from the GTC, but also from other membership organisations, such as the College of Teachers and the Royal Society of Arts, to which many teachers already subscribe.  Subscription fees are also a cause for concern, especially at a time when teachers have seen their salaries fall in comparison with other graduate professions.

In order to enable teachers to discuss their concerns and engage with some of these issues, Voice would like to set up focus groups to inform developments.  This would give teachers the opportunity to share their ideas, air any apprehensions they might have and learn more about how plans to establish a College of Teaching are progressing.  We are also proposing to include workshops and discussion forums at some of our regional conferences so that teachers can participate in activities designed to contribute to this initiative.  If you would like to take part in any of these events, please contact us by sending an email to iantoone@voicetheunion.org.uk.

To learn more about the College, please visit our FAQs. These highlight, amongst other things, the College’s place within the education community.

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