New College of Teaching? So why was GTCE abolished?

2 May

In its report 'Great teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best', the Commons Education Committee comments:

"We acknowledge and support the case for a new, member-driven College of Teaching, independent from but working with Government, which could play important roles, inter alia, in the accreditation of CPD and teacher standards. We are not convinced . that the existing College has the public profile or capacity to implement such a scheme. We recommend that the Government work with teachers and others to develop proposals for a new College of Teaching, along the lines of the Royal Colleges and Chartered Institutions in other professions."

An article in The Daily Telegraph also argues that "Teachers should be given a Royal College education The lack of a proper professional body is undermining their standards and status in the classroom."

As the report acknowledges, a College of Teachers (a "professional educational institute for teachers", that aims to "support the teaching profession through networks of membership and qualifications") already exists, and has backed the Committee's call for the similar-sounding College of Teaching so any new body might be advised to choose a more distinct name.

But wait a minute; hasn't the Government recently abolished the General Teaching Council for England (GTC)?

Its demise goes unmentioned in the report's recommendation, even though the head of its Scottish counterpart is quoted:

'Tony Finn explained that the General Teaching Council in Scotland, which he leads, is “in effect […] a professional body”, and he outlined some of its key functions:

'We accredit all courses of teacher education. We set the entry standards for teaching at the point when someone goes into a faculty of education. We also declare what is the expectation of professional standards at different points of a teacher’s career, including standard for headship […] We are responsible for the teacher induction scheme in Scotland […] and, as of 2 April [2012], we become a fully independent body, which is quite separate from Government but which will be required to work closely with all partners in a consensus body.

'Mr Finn suggested that any similar body being set up in England should not be “about representing teachers, because there are other bodies that represent teachers and their interests”, but rather “about representing teaching [,] promoting teaching and quality of teaching.”'

The GTC was not the most popular organisation, but abolishing it diminished the profession.

Politicians and journalists are fond of telling teachers what they should teach and how they should teach often on the basis of how things were when they were at school but, although the government might interfere with other professions in terms of funding and administration, ministers and the media don't usually tell doctors how to diagnose and treat, or soldiers how to fight, or judges how to judge, or engineers how to engineer

If teaching is to be regarded as a true profession in its own right surely it needs the oversight of an independent regulatory body. Other professions, such as medicine, have professional bodies. All the nations of the UK currently have general teaching councils, so why not teachers in England?

Then there's the whole IfL saga. Further education teachers in England currently have a professional body so why not their school teacher colleagues?

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