Colin Borthwick chartered teacher, Dunbar Grammar, East Lothian

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
Becoming a chartered teacher gives you confidence, because you know so much more than you did before. You learn to look critically at your own practice. You start to ask kids what they are learning, to seek feedback on your teaching.

Going through the programme forces you to examine absolutely everything and makes you think in very different ways.

As a chartered teacher, you feel you can hold your own with anybody in education. I did a module on the implications for schools of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act. I'm a geography teacher and would never have known about all that.

I enjoyed being a principal teacher, but where I used to spend lots of time ordering jotters and coloured pencils or estimating grades, I now spend my time designing lessons and creating resources. You're totally focused on learning and teaching.

It's no secret that management and local authorities don't like the chartered teacher programme. You don't have to compete to get on it, for a start, which means they don't have any control, and your salary is higher than most principal teacher jobs. That gives them problems.

A lot of people are reluctant to become chartered teachers because they think it would be like going back to teacher training. It doesn't have to be like that. They would be surprised by how enjoyable it can be.

If you look around, you can get providers that suit you, and you can do it by distance learning. I used three different providers: City and Guilds and Paisley and Dundee universities.

There is a belief that it costs pound;6,000-pound;8,000 and takes six years to become a chartered teacher. But if you shop around, it doesn't have to. I've done it in two years at a total cost of pound;4,000. I got accreditation for prior learning for four modules via CPD Advantage (City and Guilds), I did three modules, online, with Paisley and one with Dundee.

Paisley University online is especially convenient. I've heard of people using it to work on their chartered teacher modules at 2am while breastfeeding a baby.

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