David Noble

25th March 2011 at 00:00
These are worrying times for the chair of the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland, with the future of the programme in doubt. The special-school teacher has a growing reputation for inventive use of new technology, thanks to his own achievement of chartered status

How is ACTS dealing with the freeze on entry to the chartered teacher programme?

We are not overtly political. I hope we are able to help disseminate the latest news. We will continue to argue that the proposal is unfairly dismantling a career path into which people are investing significant resources, for their own learning and that of pupils.

How do we know chartered teachers are making a difference?

The programme is now at its strongest. All new chartered teachers are starting full masters qualifications - they are embarking on a long journey. Initially, people could go down the accreditation route, writing up projects they were doing anyway. Recent reports by Menter et al (2010), Reeves et al (2010) and HMIE (2009) show chartered teachers are having an impact. At ACTS, we are asking chartered teachers to send in examples of good practice, which we will submit to the McCormac review.

What would be the impact if the programme were to end?

It could affect implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. Chartered teachers have an outward-looking view and find out about new pedagogical practice that they can share in schools. Thousands of classroom teachers will find their career ambitions severely restricted. Scottish education's standing within international discourse on "accomplished teaching" would be lost.

Why is there still scepticism about chartered teachers?

I see people criticising chartered teachers based on a sample of one - not a sound basis for changing policy. Criticism tends to come from certain quarters. It's vital that decisions are based on a body of knowledge.

What would be the impact if headteachers or local authorities decided who went on the programme, not individuals?

There would be huge concern. How would this be managed? Would it be a postcode lottery, where entry depended on where you lived and how supportive your local authority was of the programme? Would you have to move house to progress your career?

Should CTs have a stronger role mentoring student teachers, probationers and new teachers?

Many of our members have mentioned in the past year that this could be a role. It was a surprise to me there was no mention of that idea in the Donaldson report.

What impact has the programme had on your teaching?

It came along at the right time, when I was experimenting with new technology. It has given me the confidence to work with others and promote the idea of teachers teaching teachers.

What is the greatest technological innovation in education in recent times?

In the classroom, a broadband internet connection and basic LCD projector. The notion of "personal learning networks" has transformed the lives and practice of thousands of teachers around the world. They socialise and talk shop through blogs, social-networking sites and online events.

What use of technology have you been most proud of?

I set up and now manage the school blog. People send me write-ups of events, activities and experiences throughout school life. Some students like to share classwork, and, pleasingly, many care staff have written extended articles on learning opportunities that exist beyond the school day.

How far does new technology go towards improving the inclusion of children with special needs?

New technologies enable some children to find a voice. Many are motivated by writing for an audience. But, too often, I hear mainstream teachers stating these benefits as a desired end product. I believe many secondary pupils with additional needs should only use these in school if it enables them to access the curriculum better and leads to tangible educational outcomes, such as national qualifications.

Is special needs still a soft touch for budget cuts?

I'm astounded that councils are making such swingeing cuts to support services. Some services employ non-teaching staff and are less of a political issue when being cut. It appears parents and carers are almost alone in advocating retention of critical support structures for young people and families.

What is your key message to the McCormac review?

Scottish education continues to succeed partly due to the goodwill, trust and autonomy of teachers and others at "street level". If key human beings in our education system are respected less and not provided with the resources they need, desired outcomes will not be attained.

What is your gut feeling about the future for the chartered teacher programme?

Apart from those who have never embraced it - despite signing up to the McCrone agreement - the Government and many national bodies, universities, employers and several thousand teachers have invested greatly in it. As the idea is widely respected and internationally influential, I fully expect it to continue to evolve.


Born: Glasgow, 1974

Education: Williamwood High, East Renfrewshire; Paisley University, BAcc (Hons) in accounting; Strathclyde University, PGCE secondary - business studies and economics; Edinburgh University, PGCE education support - inclusive and special education

First job: Business teacher, Walderslade Girls' School, Chatham, Kent

Current job: Teacher, Hillside School, Fife.

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