Radical proposals have been put forward to set up a new College of Teaching that supporters believe could transform the way the profession operates in England.
Teachers could be asked to pay a voluntary membership fee of as much as pound;250 a year: those behind the initiative think that staff would be more likely to engage with the college if they are financing it. The body's main aim would be to disseminate best practice and excellence across the profession, backers say.
A consultation on the plans has been drawn up by the Prince's Teaching Institute, an educational charity created by the Prince of Wales. Chris Pope, co-director at the institute, was keen to point out that every facet is up for debate.
"What we are proposing is a blueprint. It is a proposal and what we are asking is, let's see if teachers like the flavour of the proposal," Mr Pope said.
The plans suggest three tiers of membership - associate, member and fellow - with a starting fee of pound;75-pound;100 to be an associate and a top bracket of pound;175-pound;250 for a fellowship.
"The money has to come from somewhere and while teachers are not used to paying for this sort of thing, if they don't, whoever pays for it would then pull all the strings," Mr Pope said. "If it is to happen, then it needs the support of teachers both financially and in participation."
A key principle of membership is a mentoring programme, which would partner members or fellows with a teacher from another school who would help them to develop professionally.
According to the proposals, new and student teachers would be encouraged to join at an associate level, while teachers demonstrating breadth and skill would qualify to become members. Only those who had made "significant contributions" to the profession would be considered for fellowship. The consultation also asks whether it would be appropriate for the body to be called a "royal" college.
England's education secretary Michael Gove has voiced his support for the creation of a Royal College of Teaching. Speaking in April at a National College for Teaching and Leadership conference in Nottingham, he threw his weight behind the project, which would remain free from political control but act in competition with the teaching unions.
Key questions from the consultation
- Do you think there is a role for a new independent member-driven college of teaching?
- Do you think the college should aim to provide an authoritative voice of the profession on matters of teaching values, standards, practice and research?
- Do you agree that membership should be voluntary?
- What do you think the most important activities of a college of teaching should be?
- Do you think the proposed mentoring structure is a reasonable basis for organising the work of the college?
- How important do you think it is for the college to seek to inform practice with evidence?
- Do you think the college should seek to advise policymakers on curriculum, assessment and school inspection?
- Would teachers be willing to pay subscription rates of:
a) Associate pound;70-pound;85; member pound;125-pound;135; fellow pound;175-pound;200?
b) Associate pound;85-pound;100; member pound;135-pound;140; fellow pound;200-pound;250?
- Do you think costs of pound;250-pound;500 for certification are reasonable? Who would pay them?
- Do you think that members and fellows would be willing to mentor and certify other teachers without financial compensation?
- Do you think schools would release members and fellows for two to five days per annum on average to certify other teachers?