The Teacher Learning Academy is being piloted in three authorities, with a university link in each case - Birmingham (with the University of Central England), Manchester (with Manchester Metropolitan University) and Sheffield (with Sheffield Hallam University).
It will expand to take more partners in the next academic year and, pending an evaluation by the National Foundation for Educational Research, it will go national from September 2005.
There are six stages, in ascending order: associate, senior associate, member, senior member, fellow and senior fellow. From senior associate onwards, higher education-recognised Cat (credit accumulation and transfer) points are available, so that fellow is reckoned to be equivalent of a masters degree and senior fellow on a par with PhD. (Although the academy offers professional recognition in itself, academic accreditation is there for those who want it.) In line with the policy of keeping the academy flexible and teacher-driven, evidence of learning can be submitted in a wide range of forms including journals (such as hard copy or online) video, computer presentation, photographs, or accumulated classroom documents (such as planning, assessments and pupils' work).
Teachers can work alone or together, either within their own schools or across a wider grouping.
Although the academy could be a career-long relationship, it is estimated that a project at senior associate or member level will take about two terms.
Further information is on the GTC website: www.gtce.org.ukgtcinfotla.asp