Chartered teachers blaze trail for an all-masters profession

17th February 2012 at 00:00
But extra pay for new qualification is still under negotiation

Chartered teachers and those who were en route to the qualification before the programme was frozen last year are expected to be the "pathfinders" to a new master's qualification.

Michael Russell, the education secretary, told TESS this week that he saw those who had already taken the chartered teacher route as "trailblazers" to a point where teaching in Scotland becomes an all-masters profession, as it is in Finland.

The new qualification, which will replace the chartered teacher scheme, is to be devised in discussion with the university sector. Existing chartered teachers will also be consulted so that a future qualification draws on their personal experiences.

Asked whether he felt the new qualification should include an element of classroom observation, Mr Russell said that would be "for discussion", but it seemed to him a "reasonable" idea.

It will be up to the tripartite Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers to decide whether existing or part-way chartered teachers retain their higher salaries and whether those who complete the new master's qualification gain a hike up the pay-scale.

Mr Russell's view, however, was that those who moved on professionally should be rewarded for it.

The first group - existing chartered teachers - had an "established entitlement" to higher pay, he said, and the second - those part of the way through the scheme - had a "growing entitlement" to financial recognition.

In the case of new people aspiring to a master's, their case had to be negotiated, he said.

The education secretary promised that his plans for a refreshed system of professional review and personal development - another of the McCormac review recommendations - would be done "sensitively".

He concurred with the General Teaching Council for Scotland that the new model should not be seen as an MOT for teachers.

"It needs to be about continuing to improve the already high quality of the profession," he said.

The national partnership group, set up to implement the Donaldson report on Teaching Scotland's Future, had been asked to collaborate with the GTCS on professional development to ensure that its work was aligned with the council's proposals for "professional update", he added.

Mr Russell also stated explicitly that the McCormac review's recommendation that more external experts be used in the classroom would not follow the model proposed, and later dropped, by Renfrewshire Council. The authority had wanted to replace teachers with unqualified staff for 10 per cent of the school week, but met fierce opposition from teacher unions, parents and the GTCS.

He has, however, asked Education Scotland to identify the best examples of outside experts working in schools and to recommend whether further safeguards or guidance are required in this area.

"Teachers are the ones who teach - and that's how it should be," said Mr Russell.

elizabeth.buie@tess.co.uk.

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