Does this fit your idea of a chartered teacher?

21st September 2001 at 01:00
A draft standard is on its way out for consultation and the verdict from the classroom is keenly awaited, says Gordon Kirk

HAT qualities and capabilities should a chartered teacher be expected to demonstrate? Since the title will refer to a grade rather than a post, it is not possible to identify the necessary features by listing the functions of those who carry particular responsibilities in schools. Instead, they must be derived from an analysis of teaching as a professional activity.

That analysis has involved the chartered teacher project group in three lines of inquiry: in reviewing attempts to identify the accomplished teacher in other countries; in a study of the literature on accomplished teaching and teaching as a profession; and in seeking the views of Scottish teachers and the wider educational community.

The outcome is a draft Standard for the Chartered Teacher, which will feature in a second major consultation involving all of Scotland's teachers. The proposed standard has four components or elements. First, chartered teacher status is thought to require evidence of four key professional commitments:

* Effectiveness in promoting learning in the classroom: securing the well-being and educational progress of learners.

* Critical reflection, self-evaluation and development: the chartered teacher should keep their teaching under regular review and be committed to finding improved ways of teaching or adopting more creative and imaginative ways of supporting pupils' learning, drawing on reading and research.

* Collaboration and influence: as a member of a school staff, the chartered teacher will be committed to influencing whole-school development, to collaborating with colleagues, as well as participating in the wider professional community of teaching.

* Educational and social values: the chartered teacher will have a commitment to such values as personal responsibility, social justice and inclusion, and to pupils' personal, social, moral and cultural development.

These four commitments are seen as providing the drivers of the chartered teacher initiative and are proposed as quality indicators against which claims for chartered teacher status and CPD activities should be evaluated.

Second, these overriding professional commitments will issue in corresponding forms of professional action: to effect further progress in pupils' learning and development; to create a positive climate for learning; to deploy strategies which maximise learning; to evaluate practice and to reflect critically on it; to improve professional performance; to contribute to the quality of the educational experience provided by the school and to the wider professional context of teaching; to relate teaching to wider school aims and to the personal, social and moral development of pupils; and to adopt a personal stance on educational issues, policies and developments.

Third, these various forms of professional action are judged to require a critical understanding of various forms of professional knowledge: of the curriculum; of current perspectives on teaching and learning; of school effectiveness; of forms of evaluation and the interpretation of evidence; of teacher professionalism, and of the social values which underpin education.

Finally, in order to carry out the various forms of professional action effectively, the chartered teacher will require a range of professional attributes and personal qualities, such as being enthusiastic and having the capacity to motivate; being an effective communicator; being creative, imaginative and insightful; being systematic, well organised and determined; and being caring and approachable.

Accomplished teaching of the kind reflected in the proposed standard is teaching in which the four key professional commitments permeate the work of the teacher in the classroom, in the school, and beyond. It is because these key professional commitments are so pervasive that a generic standard is being proposed that will apply at all stages of education, across all subjects and specialisms, covering all aspects of teachers' work and all schools throughout the country.

The draft standard seeks to articulate the views held by the profession as well as to draw on the literature on teaching, not least the teacher as reflective practitioner. How well, the next phase of consultation will ask, does it accord with the aspirations of Scottish teachers?

Professor Gordon Kirk is dean of the education faculty at Edinburgh University.

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