‘If we build a College of Teaching together, we can change the face of education’

Only by working collectively as a profession – and contributing to the start-up costs – can we ensure that the college becomes a powerhouse

Angela McFarlane

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At last the College of Teaching has a board of trustees with a mandate to make decisions and get things started. Perhaps their biggest challenge will be the management of expectations. This has been a long time coming – and rightly so. 

Yet the college won’t spring from the box fully formed. Setting up a new, independent, membership organisation with charitable status takes time to get right. Getting the right board is a really important first step. 

These 13 people have to have the right mix of experience and skills to offer representation across a very diverse profession. At the same time they need a skill set not normally expected of classroom teachers but which a new organisation must have if it is not to fall at the first fence – including skills in governance, finance, HR and charity law.

Luckily the idea of a College of Teaching was powerful enough to attract an outstanding field of candidates. The selection committee had a very difficult job to identify just 13 from the excellent applicants who made it through the testing process.

The final team draws from colleagues in the primary, secondary, post-16 and special educational needs and disability sectors. They have the benefit of experience of setting up not one but two other colleges. Their business planning and marketing expertise has been honed in some of the world’s most successful companies and their start-up experience is second to none.

But for all that, they will need time to get to a point where the College of Teaching can open its gates to paying members. The exact terms and conditions of membership have to be thrashed out and those debates need to involve the profession as a whole. The standards for chartered registration will take longer – the current proposal allows three to four years of incubation with widespread consultation and trialing. 

The networks for knowledge-sharing and the proposed CPD referral service may be quicker. All of this will take resource, too. The government is still talking about support, but they cannot be the only source of funding. The fledgling college has had generous philanthropic donations, and the in-kind contributions from a range of individuals and organisations have been remarkable. 

Busy teachers and headteachers have given huge amounts of time – including tweeting before 7am on a Sunday morning and turning up on freezing Saturdays at a moment’s notice. But to ensure its independence and establish the autonomy of the teaching profession with any credibility, the college must be owned by the profession in every sense of that term.

In the heyday of professional association start-ups, in the Victorian era, it was common for a group of benefactors within the profession to found their membership body. Today we expect a more inclusive model and have the technology to support that. 

Through a crowd-funding and engagement campaign with Hubbub, we can gather pledges from across the profession and even beyond it. Those who believe in the value and status of teachers and teaching in our society can go on record as founding supporters of the College of Teaching. 

In a milestone survey of 13,000 teachers and in our numerous discussions with teachers, up to half have told us that they are ready to make such a pledge. If that enthusiasm is reflected across the profession and if a fraction now walk the walk as they have talked the talk, the college will get off to a flying start. 

We have a great board in place – but they cannot do this on their own. The founding of a College of Teaching creates a rallying point for those in the profession who want to come together to re-establish the professional standing of teaching. 

It does not need everyone to join to get started, but if enough of the brilliant, dedicated and inspirational teachers in our schools and colleges want this to happen, they now have a way to make it so. 

Visit claimyourcollege.hubbub.net to find out more and join those making small but valuable contributions, which together can change the face of education in the UK forever.

Professor Angela McFarlane is chief executive and registrar of the College of Teachers and the official nominee to join the College of Teaching board as a founding trustee to ensure a smooth and effective transfer of a revised Royal Charter to the new College. Follow her on Twitter @AEMcFarlane

For further information on the College of Teaching and the Claim Your College campaign, visit: www.claimyourcollege.org

Follow Claim Your College on Twitter: @CollOfTeaching #CollegeOfTeaching #ClaimYourCollege

Like Claim Your College on Facebook: www.facebook.com/claimyourcollege

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Angela McFarlane

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