Geoff Barton: `We need to make sure it's the experts - the classroom teachers - who claim their college'

1st January 2015 at 00:00
Geoff Barton, head of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, writes:

When it comes to the proposed College of Teaching, I reach for the words of Groucho Marx, when he said: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member".

Quite. One of the success criteria of the new college should be that it isn't stuffed with people like me - those of us in school and college leadership, or those who have escaped the classroom to tell others how to teach.

We already get enough of a voice.

Now it should be the turn of the people who can actually have the biggest impact in raising standards in our schools. These are the classroom teachers who, day in, day out, plan lessons, teach, feel briefly euphoric or deflated and mark work, before attending hastily to the next requirement of teaching's relentless conveyor-belt.

It's ironic that this government's only education act was called The Importance of Teaching. It was a pompous and self-aggrandising title. It did almost nothing to improve teaching, which is why so many people are cosying up to the College of Teaching concept as if it were the class gerbil that they're looking after over the summer.

Everyone, it seems, wants to say what a good idea it is and to seize the membership agenda.

My only cautionary note is to look who's doing the seizing. The manifesto and website contain more recognisable names than a Debrett's guide.

And therein lies the threat. We don't want a College that's seen as another attempt to police the profession like the woeful General Teaching Council of England. We don't want another quango.

Which is why I hope that as many real classroom teachers will do what they can to get involved, to reaffirm the importance of teachers in our society and to demonstrate once and for all that it isn't just politicians who want - in their clich-strewn admonishments - to raise standards.

It's us. It's our profession.

And this time we need to make it happen. Which is why people like me should support from the sidelines but leave it to the experts, the classroom teachers, to claim our college.

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