Abracadabra? Alas, no magic route to the ball

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
When I started on the chartered teacher programme, there were various myths going around the online discussion boards. I use the word myth to refer to a story told to help people understand phenomena over which they have little control.

One was that any route to chartered teacher was going to take years of hard work and expense. Candidates said that they would be retired before they could reap the benefits. Others worked out that any rise in salary would generate increased pension.

The expense can be quantified. Complete two modules (approximately Pounds 1,200) and there's a salary increment of pound;942. Complete 12 and the Pounds 7,000 salary increase almost covers the cost of the modules in a year.

One candidate planned to fund her modules by switching the debt between credit cards until her increased salary allowed it to be paid off. That's financial planning.

Some said the accreditation for prior learning route would be incredibly difficult. Unkind people suggested that this myth was circulated by universities, who could gain financially from all candidates who take the modular route.

Certainly it was a staff member of a provider institution who came up with the statement that candidates would need "truckloads of evidence" for the accreditation route. Just imagine all those trucks being driven up to Clerwood House, Edinburgh home of the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

This myth was countered by nice cosy people at the GTC.

I'd never had cause to speak to anyone at the GTC before. It had always seemed like a rather impersonal institution, a pioneer certainly, and pretty obviously a "good thing", but not particularly relevant to what I did in my job.

However, personal contact was a different story. Their counter-myth was that a good and experienced teacher had only to think of two or three developments or projects that she had been involved with recently, match these to the CT standard and Abracadabra! Cinderella teacher would complete the accreditation route to the chartered teacher ball.

Well, as someone who enjoys writing reflective essays, who found it stimulating to collect evidence to match to the chartered teacher standard and was lucky enough to jump through the right hoops in the right way (first time), for me there was a little truth in this myth.

However, I can't help worrying about the dented professional self-esteem of those who find the workload overwhelming, struggle to write in an academic style or for some reason have to resubmit their claim.

Another myth was that the Scottish Executive could not afford to pay the enhanced salaries of all those who theoretically could become chartered teachers.

What would happen if all the teachers at the top of the main salary scale decided they would embark on the chartered teacher programme? Obviously this could not be allowed to happen. This myth could lead us into conspiracy theory. If we believe it, we might start to imagine that those who knock the chartered teacher programme are in cahoots with the Executive, helping to keep the numbers down and save money. Mind you, it does throw another light on the 12 pound;600 modules.

Did anybody believe any of these myths? Of course, those who match up to the "professional and personal attributes" of the chartered teacher standard are able to "articulate a personal, independent and critical stance in relation to contrasting perspectives" - I think that means they can spot the garbage - so they chose their route and set to work.

And those who haven't started yet? One or other of the myths may have deterred them. Or perhaps they have other things to do with their lives just now. That's a pretty good reason for not undertaking the chartered teacher programme.

Annie McSeveney is a chartered teacher at Braidwood Primary in Carluke, South LanarkshireIf you have any comments, email scotlandplus@tes.co.uk

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