Published: May 2024 
Authored by: Dr Lisa-Maria Müller & Dr Victoria Cook

Revisiting the notion of teacher professionalism

A working paper

As the professional body for teachers, it is crucial to explore what we mean by professionalism and how it can best be supported.

This report aims to redefine what we mean by teacher professionalism and advocate for a more aspirational vision for our profession.

We will use this working definition of professionalism to shape our activities at the Chartered College of Teaching and the direction of the profession more widely.


A focus on developing and sustaining teacher professionalism should lie at the heart of all education policy, and particularly teacher recruitment and retention.

Professionalism includes

⚬ Collaborative and critical engagement with bodies of knowledge

⚬ Balancing commitment to pupils with teacher wellbeing

⚬ Informed autonomy to make decisions based on context and an ethical framework.

For professionalism to flourish

⚬ Professional development needs to build three-way communication between research, policy and practice, valuing teachers’ role in adapting and implementing research evidence and building new knowledge from observations and action research

⚬ Punitive, high-stakes accountability systems which curb teacher professionalism should be reconsidered in favour of more inclusive systems that put a stronger focus on peer learning, feedback and trust

⚬ Policy-makers should engage with the profession in meaningful conversations and genuine partnership to create sustainable change that improves wellbeing and reduces workload.

Working definition of teacher professionalism

Dr Lisa-Maria Müller

Head of Research and Policy, Chartered College of Teaching

Dr Victoria Cook

Education Research Specialist, Chartered College of Teaching