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Chartered? That's elitist

London's new status for experienced teachers has upset the General Teaching Council. Karen Thornton reports

Teachers should have more say on the ever-growing number of standards they are expected to meet to earn more or to win promotion, the General Teaching Council for England says.

Teachers already have to match up to the set of standards to join the profession, another to pass the threshold at the top of the main pay scale and yet another to move up the senior teachers' scale.

Now a new set is being introduced for those who want to join an elite group of teachers with "chartered" status in London and for some subjects such as maths and science.

Council members lined up at their meeting in Sheffield last week to criticise chartered status for experienced London teachers, calling it "elitist" and "divisive".

The teaching council wants professional standards streamlined - and eventually to be in charge of them itself in line with the greater powers enjoyed by the Scottish GTC.

It has already complained about not being consulted on new, additional standards expected of post-threshold teachers who want to progress to point 3 on the upper pay spine.

The English council is required by law to advise on standards, but decisions are in the hands of ministers. In Scotland, the GTC accredits all programmes of initial teacher education and chartered teacher training, and makes recommendations to ministers on the standards required to enter the profession.

Carol Adams, the GTC for England's chief executive, told members she had hoped that chartered status for London teachers would be developed in line with the council's own plans for a teacher learning academy.

The academy - being piloted in Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield - would accredit the knowledge and skills acquired by teachers during their day-to-day work.

For example, a teacher who had led school-wide work on boys'

under-achievement could gain points towards a masters course without having to submit extra reports. Teachers would have different levels of academy membership depending on their experience, ranging from associate to senior fellow.

Ms Adams told members: "We very much hoped that the London scheme would not go along separately and would be part of our learning academy. For reasons to do with teacher shortages in the capital, it has gone ahead."

Speaking after the meeting, she said: "We are concerned that the profession is not being sufficiently involved in setting standards. There is a proliferation of them. If new standards are being set, we need coherence and progression for teachers.

"The council believes ultimately that it should have the responsibility to set standards, but not necessarily right now. It is not looking to grab them off any other agency at the moment."

Meanwhile, the GTCE looks set to spend its last year before new members are elected focusing on teaching and learning. It hopes that its embryonic academy will allow it to work with teachers in a bottom-up rather than top-down way.

* Nominations for election to the GTCE opened this month and close on December 15. Elections take place next spring to fill 25 teacher and headteacher places (see advertisement on this page). Successful candidates will serve for four years from September next year.

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