The Chartered College of Teaching - Head's Blog

Posted on: 06/07/2018

When selecting a school, how can parents make judgements about the quality of teaching on offer? Should they look at academic results or could that lead them to select an ‘exam factory’ rather than a school which inspires a lifelong love of learning through excellent, well-planned, dynamic, proactive teaching and learning opportunities? How can parents be assured that a school is using the latest research in its teaching methods, building excellent results through a constantly evolving best practice based on what is proven to work? Do working parents really have the time and the will to read through comprehensive inspection reports in detail, rather than just take the headlines? These questions are important for families in both the independent and state education sector, but are also crucial for Heads in the independent sector, who are increasingly under pressure to compete for new pupils and to prove why and how their school is ‘a cut above’.

The new format of the Independent Schools Inspectorate will give parents security in the knowledge that a school is compliant with the DFE's regulatory school requirements (Regulatory Compliance Inspection). The Educational Quality Inspection will also give every school the opportunity to demonstrate to the Inspectorate the quality of the outcomes for their pupils and the contributory factors which makes each school unique. There is no doubt that these inspections are valuable and necessary. However, parents (and Heads) also need to be reassured that individual teachers, to whom the pastoral care and education of children is entrusted, are doing their utmost to develop themselves continually and to contribute positively to the ever-evolving educational landscape.

A new professional body has been established to provide a solution: Chartered Teacher Status, a post-graduate qualification for dedicated teachers which gives them a chartered professional standing. In the future, parents will be able to ask schools how many Chartered Teachers they have on their books and this will provide an independent measure of the quality, dedication and professionalism of the teachers they will be ‘employing’.

Back in February 2017, the Chartered College of Teaching (CCT)  held their inaugural conference at the QEII Convention Centre, Westminster, the same venue where only months earlier the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) had  held their national conference for Head teachers from UK and international IAPS schools. The CCT has been established to connect, inform and inspire teachers to deliver the best possible education for children and young people. Theirs is a professional role comparable to the Law Society, General Medical Council and Royal Institute of British Architects.

Professor Dame Alison Peacock, the Chief Executive of the Chartered College, the former Secretary of State for Education the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP,  John Tomsett from Huntington School, Professor Rob Coe of CEM at Durham University and Professor Tanya Byron were just some of the speakers we heard from that day.  On return from the conference I offered all my teachers at St. Helen’s College the opportunity to take up membership of the CCT, paid for by the school as part of their CPD.

Many independent school parents belong to professions where their achievements can see them elevated to chartered status. However, for teachers, previously the only way to be elevated in their careers was to take on other leadership responsibilities, become middle leaders, senior leaders or headteachers. The problem is, this takes teachers away from the classrooms where their work has the most impact and away from the reason they were inspired to join the profession in the first place - to teach children!

Independent schools do have their own professional associations who provide exceptional CPD opportunities but, with parents increasingly ‘shopping around’ across the sectors before making final choices about buying into private education,  it is important that independent schools embrace partnerships across all sectors and phases of education to give our teachers even greater opportunities and a voice on the national education stage. The Chartered College of Teaching hopes to drive even greater support and collaboration across the whole profession.  

At St. Helen’s College, we are delighted to be supporting our Head of EYFS who has secured a place on the pilot cohort of the Chartered Teacher programme, which was launched at the start of the year for practising teachers to recognise their skills and knowledge while working towards accreditation as a  ‘Chartered Teacher’. There are 180 teachers in this first cohort, from international and UK schools. The programme enables teachers to continue developing their practice within the classroom, raises the status of the profession, and is the first step in the development of a career pathway focused not on leadership but classroom practice.  The pilot programme has participants from all sectors and phases. Throughout, participants have undertaken a range of different assessments that enable them to showcase their knowledge and skills against the areas set out in the Chartered College’s Professional Principles.  As a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College, I have been selected to sit on the Assessment Board for the pilot programme.  We meet as a group, in person or online, to advise and moderate the assessment pathway of the programme. It is a rigorous and demanding course and any school who has a member of staff who has Chartered Teacher status should be very proud.

Parents can place their trust in the Chartered Teachers scheme. Chartered Teachers must prove that they use latest educational research in teaching practice day to day and, in doing so, that they inspire other colleagues and their school as a whole to keep up to date with the latest research-based teaching techniques. The outcomes are twofold: children are more inspired to learn and to take ownership of their own learning, and they are also PROVEN more likely to achieve better outcomes in both their academic and personal development.

Teacher professional development should be a high priority for all school leaders as part of their strategic development plan.  In the independent sector there are high stakes for pupil outcomes reflected in good examination results, and rightly so. Hard-working parents, often paying school fees from income, expect value for money in the form of the best teaching and learning for their children. To ensure that we provide this, it is crucial that the professional development of teachers is prioritised and that Heads know where to access the best CPD opportunities - there is a growing unregulated market of CPD which is not ‘quality assured’ or tested, but which can be eye-wateringly expensive! It is therefore reassuring that IAPS, who already provide an excellent programme of CPD for teachers and school leaders, is currently in discussions with The Chartered College of Teachers. Working together, I am confident that we will build the membership numbers of teachers from the independent sector.

Teacher recruitment and teacher retention is becoming a problem and this is having an impact on the independent sector too.  Head teachers and governors need to plan effectively and raise the questions: how do we ensure that our teachers are kept abreast of curricular issues, have access to good evidence based educational research to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and how are we keeping staff inspired and motivated.  We hope that the Chartered College of Teaching will provide answers.

The Chartered College has set up a network programme across the UK to build up the professional knowledge base of teaching and bring members together to work on issues of direct concern to classroom practice, wherever they are located and whatever their setting, interests and experience.   Ten members of St. Helen’s College staff recently attended a session hosted at another independent school who have also embraced memberships and promotion of the Chartered College among their staff.  The session was attended by teachers from local primary and secondary schools, from the maintained and independent sector.  This  year I attended the second annual Conference of the Chartered College.  I came away from the conference having connected yet again with many wonderful teachers and educators,  further informed and inspired to go back to my own school to continue working with my staff to improve the quality of the education and experiences we provide.

So I would urge every Head teacher in the independent sector to support the work of the Chartered College of Teaching and to promote membership for every one of their teachers.  And I would urge parents to ask schools whether their teachers are members of the CCT, and whether they have any teachers working towards Chartered status. In future years, this may well be the best measure possible of a school’s overall ‘quality’.

Mrs. Drummond
Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching