Endorsement 'a logical step'

3rd October 2008 at 01:00
Neil Munro reports on the latest controversy surrounding the future of the chartered teacher programme

The general Teaching Council for Scotland has kicked the thorniest issues around the future of the chartered teacher programme into the long grass.

Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, has asked the council to issue guidance on what should be in teachers' continuing professional development portfolio, a requirement for entry to the scheme. Controversially, she wants this to be approved by senior school managers before teachers apply for chartered status. At present, they are free to nominate themselves without endorsement.

GTC Scotland plans to consult online, through focus groups and with groups like the universities before deciding what to do. Tony Finn, its new chief executive, has publicly thrown his weight behind moves for aspiring chartered teachers to have their classroom practice endorsed by their head or senior college. This was a "logical" step to ensure chartered teacher status reflects good classroom practice, not just academic ability, he told The TESS last month.

This right of "veto" has long been demanded by headteachers and directors of education, but strongly resisted by the unions.

But, reflecting the differing views expressed at last Wednesday's council meeting, Mr Finn said: "With regard to the specific issue of approval, we will wait to see what views emerge from the consultation process. It would be wrong to second-guess it at this stage."

Mr Finn believes that the way in which teachers are interviewed during their professional review and development (appraisal, in other professions) could be a way forward. This process has to be signed off by the head. "In current best practice, these processes can support teachers who aspire to chartered teacher status, while also clarifying the standards expected of those who undertake the chartered teacher programme," Mr Finn said.

Other restrictions on "self-nomination", recommended by the chartered teacher review group and endorsed by the Education Secretary, were that they must be at the top of the salary scale for unpromoted teachers, be fully registered and maintain a CPD portfolio which included "robust, validated evidence of good classroom practice."

A meeting of the GTCS professional standards committee in August which, like all council committees, was held in private, was said in a minute of the meeting to have been "lengthy and robust". There were different views on the eligibility criteria for the scheme.

The minute of the meeting noted: "Further discussion would be needed to clarify the relationship between professional review and development procedures and entry point requirements for the chartered teacher programme."

The latest figures show that, as of June this year, there were 645 chartered teachers in Scotland and 4,300 still on the programme. The largest group are aged 51-55. They are evenly split between primary and secondary schools.

The education authority having the largest proportion of chartered teachers is Orkney which has 3.85 per cent of its teachers with chartered status, representing 10 teachers. The authority with fewest is Argyll and Bute, with 0.44 per cent or four teachers.

The number of chartered teacher candidates varies from 9.14 per cent of teachers in Shetland to 1.77 per cent in Clackmannanshire.

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