Do teachers need a College of Teaching?
Is society’s perception and model of teachers in 2016 a positive or negative one? Teachers are told they are professionals, yet many report feeling disempowered, disrespected, untrusted and lacking in autonomy in the classroom. Many feel tired and frustrated at what they perceive as constant political interference and top-down approaches when it comes to doing their job. These are some of the reasons put forward by a growing number of people calling for the creation of a new professional body made up of teachers, to set the standards for their profession and defend its integrity.
Should we welcome this new College of Teaching or be wary of it? On the positive side, this development could be seen as teachers taking back control, empowering themselves and shaping the direction of teaching instead of being subject to the whims and fads of various governments and outside interference. Its supporters argue that the legal and medical professions as well as other groups, like the Institute of Chartered Engineers, set their own standards. Teachers need to do the same, they claim, if they are to raise their profile and status.
On the other hand, do teachers themselves even agree on the role of a teacher or what constitutes high quality teaching? For example, is teaching an art, a craft, a science or something else entirely? Must practitioners be research literate? Should they be subject specialists with every teacher aspiring to be part of a community of scholars? The truth is that teachers don`t always agree on such questions, and this disagreement is as much within as between primary and secondary schools.
In this context, what are we to make of the proposed College of Teaching? Is it time for teachers to whinge less and self-determine more by getting involved in this new organisation and making it a success? Or are some teachers right to be wary given the experience of the notorious General Teaching Council imposed on them several years ago? The chief executive of the College of Teaching, Angela McFarlane, will make the case for this new professional body at this month’s Education Forum. Whether you are for it, against it or undecided, come along, listen and feel free to get stuck into the debate.
Listen to the discussion:
chief executive, College of Teaching