Profession seeks insulation from interlopers

Stephen Exley

For better or worse, politicians the world over seem to love nothing more than overhauling educational structures and regulations on a regular basis - much to the frustration of the professionals in the classroom.

But teachers in the UK are hoping that plans to create a Royal College of Teaching to promote outstanding educational practice and professional development will help them to reclaim their profession from meddling outsiders.

Ironically, the concept of creating a royal college to free the teaching profession from undue political interference was first mooted last year by a group of politicians, namely Parliament's Education Select Committee.

But since then the project, brokered by the Prince's Teaching Institute (PTI) - an educational charity created by the Prince of Wales (pictured above) - has been steadily building a momentum of its own. Last week, the PTI announced that a commission of leading educationalists, union representatives and teachers had been formed to oversee the process, and would be launching a formal consultation in May.

"I have been struck by how broad the agreement has been that we need a royal college," said PTI co-director Chris Pope. "The remit is to promote teachers' professional development, inform education policy and bring practice and research together."

TES understands that the organisers have looked at a range of comparable international organisations, such as the Ontario College of Teachers in Canada - of which membership is compulsory - and the voluntary National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in the US.

It is also not yet clear whether the college could have multiple tiers of membership to recognise different levels of achievement, in a similar way to the National Institute of Education in Singapore, and whether teachers would demonstrate their progress by exams or other forms of assessment.

One potential obstacle to the project is the fact that an existing organisation, the College of Teachers, already possesses the relevant Royal Charter for the education sector. However, the college told TES it "strongly supports, and is actively participating in" the discussions about creating a new royal college.

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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