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Royal approval for science teachers

Teaching will join engineering, accountancy and surveying in gaining the Queen's official seal of approval when the first chartered science teachers get their awards next week.

Up to ten teachers will be given the status by the Association for Science Education in a move which could herald a revolution in professional development.

Associations for other subjects, including maths, geography and technology are also interested in gaining a Royal Charter from the Privy Council, allowing them to bestow chartered status on their own members.

In Wales, the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) is already pursuing chartered status for experienced teachers aspiring to be excellent classroom practitioners or middle managers.

Advice submitted last week to Jane Davidson, education, lifelong learning and skills minister, proposed that qualified teachers with five years'

experience should be eligible. They would have access to a professional development programme and be able to meet the required standards via taught courses or accreditation.

The standards have still to be defined and funding agreed. The GTCW wants the Assembly government to pick up the estimated costs of pound;1,500 per teacher. If the minister agrees a scheme will be piloted from September 2007 and rolled out nationally in 2009.

There would be no link to pay - other than that it might improve a teacher's chances of promotion. The scheme is opposed by the union NASUWT.

Gary Brace, GTCW chief executive, said: "The chartered teacher proposals will fill that large professional development void for those teachers not in the first three years of their careers and not aspiring to senior leadership."

More science teachers are expected to be given the ASE charter after Christmas. It is open to advisors as well as primary and secondary teachers. They will have to demonstrate their impact on pupils or on the teaching of science - and every five years show they deserve to retain the status.

Derek Bell, chief executive of ASE said at the British Association Festival of Science in Norwich: "Teaching gets a lot of criticism from bodies such as the Confederation of British Industry. This is a way of saying 'actually I'm a bloody good teacher'."

It adds to the debate on whether science and maths teachers should be paid more than other specialists facing recruitment problems, such as languages.

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