Do you have the right ingredients?

22nd June 2001 at 01:00
Rob Robson shares his recipe for gaining advanced skills teacher status

Last July I gained advanced skills teacher status. This is my recipe for success - or is it stress?

* Start with a large quantity of wine and complain for a whole Friday evening about how nobody appreciates how important you are.

* After a good soaking, stagger to your feet and shout that you are "damn well going to do something about it by applying for that new AST post at school".

* Download an advanced skills teacher application form from the Department for Education and Skills website.

* In the cooler surroundings of the morning, regret previous night's wild claims and take a sneaky look at the application form - and realise you have downloaded a furniture brochure from DFS.

* Download the correct form with a sinking feeling as it looks pretty intimidating.

* At your spouse's insistence, and blushing horribly at your immodesty, fill in the form and present it to your headteacher (remain at the door after you have closed it to listen for laughter).

* Cook slowly while you wait to hear if your application form has passed the first assessment process.

* Now you have to get together the ingredients required for the fourth part of the recipe (each person is left alone to decide how to provide evidence for the following): high level skills in teaching, classroom management and maintaining discipline; quality of planning, assessment and evaluation; command of subject knowledge; understanding of pupils; high expectations of self and pupils; excellent progress; ability to give high-quality advice and support to other teachers.

Mix all evidence together to prepare an attractive and professional portfolio (which, be warned, will be examined with sharp knives).

* Leave this to one side and turn up the heat as you prepare for the assessment day (try to imagine what a one-person Ofsted would feel like to gain an appreciation of the likely temperature in this process).

* Pick your classes for the assessor to observe - classes across at least two key stages - and ensure that all the documentation and marking isup to date for these students.

* Decide which of your students and their parents could talk to the assessor in a coherent and supportive way about how fabulous you are.

* Carefully examine the feelings of your previously extremely friendly colleagues to find out their opinions of teachers who don't want to "be seen as one of us" and, when this process has been completed, choose at least three colleagues and a line manager to talk to the assessor.

* Feel secretly pleased that you no longer have to pretend to like that teacher fromI (insert appropriate subject) because she has loudly declared that she doesn't think there should be advanced skills teachers anyway.

* Listen to large numbers of colleagues say that of course they would be advanced skills teachers if only they weren't so essential to the middle managementpastoral ethosFriday night football team.

* The temperature should now be close to boiling point and you may spend the evening before assessment day feeling unreasonably aggressive towards your loved ones.

* The final stage of the recipe is the day of the assessment, when, because there is a stranger in the room and you look unusually tense, your carefully picked classes will behave like zombies and refuse to take part in the lively debate that you have engineered to take account of the variety of learning styles, CAT scores, ethnic diversity, and so on, that exist in your classroom.

* Be prepared that, because of the heat in the situation, you will laugh too loudly all day and appear awed by the assessor's plan to holiday in Margate this year.

* Fawn over supportive colleagues, students and parents while resisting the temptation to shake them and demand to know what they said to the assessor.

* At the end of the day, go into the headteacher's office to be told that you have: (a) gained AST status; or (b) not yet reached the standard.

* Faint.

* Whatever the outcome, repeat the first part of instruction one.

Rob Robson is on secondment from Sharnbrook upper school and community college, Bedford, to Cambridge University's school of education

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