There is no doubt that having the opportunity to develop a new national programme to recognise the skills, knowledge and professionalism of teachers is truly exciting. The Chartered Teacher programme aims to support teachers’ personal, professional and career development and to acknowledge and celebrate the fantastic work that happens in classrooms across the country every day. Those achieving Chartered Teacher status will be recognised for evidence-informed, high quality teaching practice, benefiting the young people they teach and helping to raise the status of teachers and the important role teachers play.
However, with apologies to Spiderman’s uncle for the slight paraphrasing, it is important to remember that with great opportunity comes great responsibility. The Chartered Teacher programme is a key part of the offer promised by the Chartered College and is in many ways our ‘USP’, but more importantly than that, rising concern about recruitment and retention in teaching means that it is critical for the profession that we get it right. That is, of course, easier said than done. As an organisation that strives to promote engagement with research and evidence, we have started with a thorough review of similar programmes around the world - of which there have been many. Some of these have been highly successful, some less so - and for a range of different reasons. As with so much in education, there is no ‘silver bullet’, no blueprint we can follow that will ensure success - but this just means that we must work even harder to plan, develop, pilot and evaluate the programme.
As well as learning from numerous programmes that have gone before, we have drawn from the approaches taken by Chartered bodies in other professions and from research into factors affecting teacher development, recruitment and retention. Importantly, we are also building on engagement with our members and with the wider profession to understand their perspectives and their priorities. This in itself brings challenges; teachers are not a particularly homogenous group. A quick scan of edu-Twitter immediately gives a sense of the differing perspectives, priorities and practices of teachers across the country and beyond, and this level of engagement in the debate taking place reflects something about our profession that should be celebrated.
Add to this, though, the huge variety of contexts in which teachers are practising their craft, and it is easy to see how developing a programme to recognise excellence in teaching becomes incredibly complex - and at times controversial. We have recently produced a first draft of the professional principles that was shared for feedback with a small group of teachers and other educational professionals (and, it appears, unofficially a little more widely), and based on comments received from the original group these have been revised, clarified, reduced in number to avoid overlap, are now ready to be shared more widely as the next stage in our consultation. These principles are based on areas that were highlighted through our earlier work with members as being ‘features’ of excellent teachers in their contexts, as well as a wide evidence base on what makes great teaching and great teachers - a future blog will concentrate on this in detail. Once these are agreed we can look to build a set of descriptors and in turn rigorous, meaningful assessment processes that recognise (and indeed serve to support and develop) the high-quality teaching already happening in many classrooms across the country, rather than adding to teacher workload.
Far from being a ‘finished product’, these principles are designed to act as a starting point and stimulus for discussion and refinement, rather than being a draft for which we are merely seeking validation. As we develop these, there is a careful balance to be struck between them being so vague and generalised as to be meaningless, and avoiding any area that could be interpreted in a range of ways or be identified as ideological; many terms that were once uncontroversial have become highly politicised, so getting the language right is important. It is also critical that they balance detail and rigour with the flexibility to work across multiple settings and to avoid being prescriptive. Another challenge that is a focus of current work is to articulate how these relate to the teacher standards and the expectations of highly skilled, experienced teachers compared to what might be expected at the start of a career; is this simply a question of focusing on the same skills and practices but doing them 'better', or is there more to it than that?
The voices of teachers have already informed our programme through numerous focus groups and interviews over the past year, as well as through a survey shared with members last week that has received hundreds of responses already; all of these have proved rich sources of data and we are looking forward to engaging further with the profession, including with those who are not members of the Chartered College. We will be publishing a report in the coming days, based on our member survey, which we hope will be of great interest, and in the meantime we would welcome your thoughts on the latest draft of the domains and top-level principles below - and how these should be revised to truly exemplify excellence in teaching.
Please share your feedback via our short survey available until 19th June.
The below represent three broad domains which we are using to organise our professional principles. Each of the twelve items below will be expanded and exemplified with a number of descriptors.
Professional knowledge and understanding
Chartered Teachers have and maintain a developed knowledge and understanding across four key areas:
- Pedagogy, curriculum and assessment, including in relation to their subject, phase and/or setting;
- Knowledge of their subject;
- Learner development and cognitive science in relation to their phase/setting;
- The nature of education research and evaluation.
The classroom practice of a Chartered Teacher is characterised by four key elements:
- Creating an optimal environment for teaching and learning for learners;
- Planning and preparing effective sequences of lessons;
- Teaching high-quality lessons that enable learners to progress;
- Critical evaluation of own practice on learner outcomes.
Being a teaching professional
Chartered Teachers embody the teaching profession in four key ways:
- Sustained approach to career-long professional learning;
- Commitment to providing appropriate academic and pastoral support for all learners;
- Demonstration of the highest level of integrity and professionalism;
- Engagement with other professionals to create a strong community for learning.