Keeping it quiet

2nd March 2007 at 00:00
THE CHARTERED teacher programme is "semi-detached" from the development of schools, according to a new study.

It has found that, while the initiative benefits teachers and their classroom practice, there is "weak" evidence that schools as a whole are benefiting.

The study, by Graham Connelly of Strathclyde University and Margery McMahon of Glasgow University, followed teachers over two years at each other's universities in a bid to gain a better understanding of their reasons for joining the programme. Professional development and salary enhancement were the motivating factors.

The authors added that the potential for chartered teachers to effect real change in their schools had been restricted by the linking of their status to a revised pay structure and renegotiated conditions of service under the national teachers' agreement.

This had resulted in "a distorted focus on enhanced salary rather than enhanced practice", Dr Connelly and Dr McMahon said.

"This makes it a highly individualised undertaking, particularly as teachers have no formal obligation to inform their head or local authority that they are planning to undertake or are involved in the programme.

Consequently, while CT formed part of an integrated package of reforms to the teaching profession, it is not yet part of an integrated system of CPD and human resource management."

The publication of the research follows an announcement late last year by Hugh Henry, the Education Minister, of a review of the chartered teacher programme. Last week, he announced that the review group is to be chaired by Michael O'Neill when he retires as director of education of North Lanarkshire Council at the end of March. His presence could be influential in supporting the view of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland that education authorities should have a say in which teachers took part in the CT project, a stance vigorously opposed by the teacher unions.

The study showed that, for some, taking part was a "clandestine" or isolating activity because teachers chose not to tell colleagues of their participation. Over time, the researchers expected hostility to subside and suggested that negative reactions were already beginning to wane.

How some found it

Patrick Mooney, above, an English teacher who is now in the diploma phase of the chartered teacher programme, told Margery McMahon as part of her research: "Of course, there are financial benefits for those teachers who successfully complete each stage.

"But my early experience and my conversations with other course members tell me that the programme provides far greater rewards than the monetary kind. My question now is: could I really afford not to be doing this?"

However, another participant told the study: "In the wider sense, the school is not benefiting at all. My studies for CT and the skillsknowledge I have gained are not being acknowledged in any way, although I am more than willing to share these."

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