Professor Angela McFarlane has played a key role in the College of Teaching project. We are delighted that she has written a blog post for us at Discovery Education, to explain the work of the college. Read more about Angela in a short biography at the bottom of the article.
On the 8th June 2016 the Privy Council granted a supplemental charter to the College of Teachers. This marked a major milestone in the professionalisation of teaching, as it grants the power to create a true Chartered Status for teachers.
This is not a well understood phenomenon among teachers, not least as the term ‘chartered’ has been used somewhat loosely in teaching to this point. True chartered status is a mark of excellence in a profession, granted to practitioners who have achieved a recognised level of expertise and who continue to practise at that level.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this new system is that the decisions on how that level is set, and how fellow professionals are deemed to have reached it, are made by the members of that profession. Not by politicians, or civil servants or by other experts who take a view on what the profession should or could do, but by working professionals who are trusted to determine what true expertise looks like in their sphere of activity. Moreover, the benchmark for excellence is set with reference to the best possible outcomes for those the profession serves. So Chartered Teacher status will be set and awarded by fellow teachers, through the powers granted to their own professional college, owned and governed by its members. It will recognise those who make a difference.
So given the huge potential this creates for teachers and teaching, the question is: how to proceed in a practice as varied and complex as teaching? Clearly there is no such thing as one right way to teach.
Teaching is a complex and nuanced activity, constantly influenced by context and content, moderated through the thousands of interactions of teacher and taught. Against this demanding backdrop, can there be a meaningful professional status that carries weight and recognises true expertise? Moreover, can working towards such a status support teacher development and offer practical support in the classroom, or is it inevitable that it becomes an unwelcome administrative burden adding to an already overly demanding workload?
Clearly if the Chartered College of Teaching is to add power to the teaching profession it must rise to the challenge of creating a professional community of teachers that supports and develops its members — offering real benefits and professional recognition.
After many years of consultation, a model is emerging based on the appetite for a knowledge sharing professional community, and the development of shared professional principles.
The new college offers an opportunity for the teaching profession to come together and answer these questions for itself, to take ownership of the professional principles that should guide practice and push back against fads and fashions that wash over schools in a constant stream. The college offers a rallying point, under the auspices of a Royal Charter, for teachers to found a new bastion of professionalism.
Professor Angela McFarlane Biography
Angela has an extensive CV, which includes teaching as well as leading research. As a Professor and Head of Department at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol, Angela developed a new MSc course in teaching science and developed modules in the innovative MSc in Education, Technology and Science, which she also taught.
Investigating the role of digital technologies in education is a particular interest and her latest book, Authentic Learning for the Digital Generation, was published in August 2014 by Routledge.