Have courage, chartered teachers told

8th June 2007 at 01:00
Dated views and negativity must be challenged, urges an academic

CHARTERED TEACHERS still feel caught between their peers, who resent their rise in status, and headteachers, who feel threatened by their newly-found authority.

The issue emerged publicly a year ago at the first national conference on the chartered teacher scheme, organised by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, and was reinforced by delegates at this year's conference last weekend.

At the event in Edinburgh, they spoke of having long-standing duties removed from them, and their offers to take on responsibilities met with comments such as, "you may be chartered, but you are still just a classroom teacher".

The chartered programme was put under the spotlight by the previous government which set up a review headed by Michael O'Neill, the former director of education in North Lanarkshire. It is expected to report in August, but is one of the many items now filling the in-tray of Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Walter Humes, research professor in education at Paisley Uni-versity, said there were varying attitudes to those with chartered status. "There are issues related to teachers at various levels," he said. "I don't think good leaders would be threatened by chartered teachers, but others could be."

He urged chartered teachers to be the harbingers of change. "Folk who have been teaching for a long time, who have been doing exactly the same thing for 20 years and feel experience is enough, who sit in the staffroom and cast judgment on everything that happens in the school, need to be challenged more. They need to be questioned about their negativity and dated views."

"Speaking out", Professor Humes added, should also involve the "courage and confidence" to raise issues with management.

Another academic at the conference said becoming a chartered teacher as a way into management, strongly favoured by headteachers and directors of education, could prove problematic.

Peter Gronn, foundation chair in educational leadership at Glas-gow University, told delegates: "It is your right as a teacher to choose to become a chartered teacher - after all, you are the ones making the time and financial commitment. It might be different if someone else was paying."

The increasing numbers of younger teachers entering the profession were those showing the greatest interest in becoming chartered but they might not wish to take on the additional burden of training for headship, he said. This would not help the looming crisis in recruiting headteachers.

But this was not borne out in the report on the teachers' agreement by the Auditor General for Scotland. It revealed that 74 per cent of those who had come into teaching via the new induction scheme saw the CT programme as a natural path to leadership.

Its popularity could mean that the cost could swell from pound;8 million originally earmarked to pound;110 million by 2010. Figures provided by GTC Scotland this week showed there are 413 qualified chartered teachers, with some 2,600 candidates who have completed one or more modules.

Professor Gronn said: "It is very much a work in progress and it is still early days and should be given a chance to grow."

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