Let's have a new deal

13th June 2008 at 01:00
Chartered teachers come under the microscope as Fiona Hyslop seeks clarification on their role
Chartered teachers come under the microscope as Fiona Hyslop seeks clarification on their role

The Education Secretary wants teachers' leaders and education authorities to renegotiate a key part of the teachers' agreement, which is likely to infuriate the unions and delight management.

Fiona Hyslop made her comments in a forthright response to the report on chartered teachers, prepared by a review group under the chairmanship of Michael O'Neill, former director of education in North Lanarkshire.

She expressed "a degree of frustration and disappointment that they seem to have ducked some of the most difficult issues".

Addressing the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland in Edinburgh last Saturday, Ms Hyslop stopped short of suggesting a veto by headteachers on who should be allowed to become a chartered teacher - but only just.

She wants the General Teaching Council for Scotland to issue guidance on what should be in teachers' continuing professional development portfolio, a requirement for entry to the scheme, and added: "While I agree that we should retain the principle of teacher self-nomination, I see no reason why the GTCS guidance shouldn't recommend - even require - that teachers consider including senior colleague endorsement of their suitability within their portfolio" (the word "require" was underlined).

This prompted the response from one chartered teacher which drew loud applause: "The suggestion headteachers should nominate staff for chartered teacher status would be welcome if heads themselves had undergone that experience."

But Ms Hyslop wants chartered teachers to regard their status as a "school-wide resource", not a purely personal accomplishment. In particular, she is keen that they work with senior management to implement curriculum reform, take the lead in raising achievement and deal with parents.

Conscious that this will be interpreted as a return to the days of the discredited "senior teacher" scheme, which also began as a way of rewarding teachers to remain in the classroom but soon saw postholders become part of school management, Ms Hyslop was adamant that this was not her intention. Nonetheless, chartered teachers should hold "appropriate discussion" with their line managers about their duties.

She wants these duties, and those of other teachers, to be clarified by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.

"I would expect that more experienced teachers - not just chartered teachers and those progressing towards chartered status, but those who have been several years at the top of the main pay scale - would have a different allocation of duties to those still progressing through the main grade pay scale. It is about getting the duties to match the experience and skills of each individual teacher."

Ms Hyslop added that "we don't really know what impact chartered teachers are having in our schools". She announced that she has asked HMIE to find out.

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