Members of the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland (ACTS) read with concern reports on the proposal by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to "freeze entry into the chartered teacher scheme".
Currently, teachers embarking on this route undertake study for which they themselves pay. The code of practice on chartered teachers states only that "there is an obligation on teachers embarking on the chartered teacher scheme to inform their headteacher". Entry is therefore confirmed to be at the instigation of the teacher. ACTS is unclear, therefore, how entry to the scheme can be frozen by the Scottish Government or Cosla.
The inclusion of this proposal seems to indicate a surprising attack on the value of the chartered teacher initiative. Only 14 months ago, Keith Brown, previous Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, said "chartered teachers have much to offer in Scotland's schools" and "during this time of change, chartered teachers are ideally placed, as they can use their skills and abilities to work with the senior school management team, other teachers and the wider education community".
The Scottish Council of Economic Advisers (SCEA) has recommended the "development and expansion of the chartered teacher programme" as the route to skill or upskill teachers.
In response, First Minister Alex Salmond said: "The chartered teacher programme can play an important part in that and the Scottish Government will continue to work with partners to promote it."
At a national seminar on accomplished teaching in September, Christine Forde of Glasgow University stated: "There is an extensive body of international research which highlights the quality of teaching as the most critical factor influencing individual pupil achievement."
The chartered teacher initiative is a flagship of Scottish education to which other countries look with admiration and respect. Those embarking on masters programmes will develop skills and knowledge which will improve classroom practice and contribute to the professional development of colleagues.
It is to be hoped the Government will take the longer view and make a commitment to the next generation by investing explicitly in professional development which will improve the quality of teaching and thus, ultimately, learning.
David Noble, acting chair, Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland.