Avoid unrealistic labels for teachers

22nd October 2010 at 01:00

It was with interest that I read John Greenlees's article last week ("Just rewards for gifted teachers", October 15) which, in line with a previous piece, seems again to be an uninformed attack on the chartered teacher programme.

In common with many people, I feel uneasy using terms such as "inspirational" and "gifted", as these are both subjective and divisive. Over many years, I have taught beside a wealth of competent and committed colleagues. They do a good job on a day-to-day basis, which the chartered programme looks to develop further. We need to be careful not to attach unrealistic, unattainable labels to teachers.

Continuing professional development, in the form of accredited courses, has long been recognised vehicle for improvement. The chartered teacher programme rewards the effort put in by such teachers, both in terms of time and finance. I find it strange that some teachers frown upon educational development for their colleagues, as this is the very business we are in for our pupils.

The model proposed by Mr Greenlees, as he readily identifies, would be open to abuse at various levels. Classroom observations and exam results are too crude and can be easily engineered, taking no account of pupils' prior learning or the skills of the teacher in often challenging circumstances. At least the chartered programme is administered by independent bodies such as the universities and the General Teaching Council for Scotland, with all participants working towards an agreed standard based solely on improving their practice and measuring its impact.

As an adviser on the accreditation route, I have seen, and can vouch for, the standard of work and the robust assessment of candidates. In fact, school leaders themselves have to do the same for submissions to be accepted. We can all identify examples of poor teachers at various levels in the profession, and anecdotal evidence is not particularly helpful in this debate.

Sadly, for many teachers, the chartered route is the only option available to increase their salary, as promoted posts can be few and far between, or corrupted by the practice of appointing internal candidates. For the most part, the programme succeeds in keeping good teachers in the class where they are most needed, a goal supported by Mr Greenlees.

David Roxburgh, Kilpatrick Court, Stepps, Glasgow.

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