Green light for chartered teacher scheme

8th January 2010 at 00:00
Pilot evaluation flags up programme's potential but calls for `radical alteration' to key aspects

Original paper headline: Green light for chartered teacher scheme despite standards fears

Wales' pioneering chartered teacher programme has been given the go- ahead by independent evaluators despite a number of concerns over the pilot scheme.

The General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW), which runs the scheme, is lobbying the Assembly government to make it available to teachers across the country from September.

It aims to raise the teaching standards and provide experienced teachers in mid-career the chance to gain professional recognition for their achievements. The programme could also lead to higher pay for successful teachers.

But the first full evaluation of the pilot, which involved 122 teachers over the past two years, has highlighted a number of problems.

Professor David Egan from the Centre for Applied Education Research at the University of Wales, Cardiff, who led the research, said standards need to be "radically altered".

The current framework used to set and assess learning objectives is "not fit for purpose", the research found. It needs to be more focused if it is going to deliver better professional practice.

There are also concerns that a number of the teachers recruited to the pilot scheme were not experts in their subjects, as had been intended.

Professor Egan's report recommends that the GTCW and the government draw up a list of agreed attributes of expert teachers to toughen the selection criteria.

He also expressed worries over how the programme would be funded and how much it would cost.

The programme needs to be taken forward jointly by the Assembly government and local authorities, and must not become "just another initiative", Professor Egan warned.

Despite the concerns, however, the report also said that the chartered teacher scheme had "considerable potential" to develop the quality of teaching in schools.

Teaching unions in Wales have generally supported the concept of chartered teacher status.

Only the NASUWT is opposed to the scheme in principle, fearing it could lead to devolved pay and conditions. Headteachers have widely supported the concept.

According to the report, teachers who took part in the pilot said it was an "enjoyable and rewarding" experience.

The government should consider a full implementation of the scheme as a matter of urgency, the evaluation found.

Professor Egan said he would like every secondary school to have at least one chartered teacher, and for those who gained the status to be paid higher salaries, as they are in Scotland.

He said high-quality teaching was "critical" to the education agenda in Wales.

"We need to recognise and reward our experienced practitioners, keeping them close to the classroom in leadership roles" he said.

"The chartered teacher programme is an appropriate way of doing that."

Mal Davies, chairman of the GTCW, has written to education minister Leighton Andrews calling for the programme to be fully funded and introduced in September, building up to full implementation by 2014 when up to 500 teachers could take part each year.

The government has already stated its support for developing the programme instead of funding the GTCW's continuing professional development scheme.

Teachers work towards accreditation through either a taught route or an accredited route in which they submit a portfolio of work.

Of the 122 teachers who took part in the pilot, 114 completed the taught route aimed at classroom teachers and middle leaders.

Hayden Llewellyn, deputy chief executive of the GTCW, said the review clearly demonstrated the benefits of the programme to the teaching profession and the wider education system in Wales.

He said: "There are clear national professional development arrangements for teachers at the beginning of their careers and for those going on to train for headship.

"However, there is nothing in place nationally for the vast majority of teachers in the midst of their careers.

"We hope that the minister will make a decision soon to fund the chartered teacher programme to bridge this gap in the near future."

If the government agrees to make the programme nationally available, the GTCW hopes that the first teachers will start in September 2010 and gain chartered teacher status in February 2012.

Officials have promised the minister's decision shortly.

Focus on diversity

A group of teachers in North Wales is taking part in a pupil diversity project as part of the extended pilot for the chartered teacher programme.

The Education for All module, provided by Bangor University and the North Wales Association of Special School Headteachers, aims to develop their awareness of the challenges and barriers to educating all pupils in an inclusive system.

For their assessment, they will be asked to reflect on how their school caters for pupil diversity.

Sarah Mason (pictured), acting head of modern foreign languages at Flint High School, is looking at the issue of young carers.

Working alongside Barnardo's, Ms Mason will examine how young carers can be identified at school and how they can be supported.

"The issue of young carers is something that is often overlooked by teachers, and therefore I feel my project will really help bring around some tangible benefits to students at the school," she said.

Julia Williams, head of art at Flint High School, is studying the issue of gifted and talented pupils' learning within art.

Ms Williams said: "Participating in the chartered teacher scheme has offered us the opportunity to gain a more in-depth understanding of various aspects of teaching.

"I definitely think the scheme would bring many benefits to the teaching profession as it offers teachers the opportunity to reflect on their teaching and consider ways to improve in certain areas."

The module will be completed in February 2010 and the results and feedback will help refine the chartered teacher programme's taught route.

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