New course to charter with pupils

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Douglas Blane talks to Marie Glancy-Durning, one of the first teachers to achieve chartered teacher status

One of the biggest events in Marie Glancy-Durning's life was having a child five years ago. "It was certainly the biggest factor in my professional development," says the new chartered teacher with a smile.

However, it was not one recognised by the General Teaching Council for Scotland in granting the Bearsden Primary teacher the post-McCrone qualification that rewards excellent teachers who want to stay in the classroom.

"I did the compulsory self-evaluation at Jordanhill last summer. That was an intensive week of work. By the end of it, we had all gained a lot of insight into ourselves and practical information on how to proceed with the chartered teacher programme."

The reasons most often cited by experienced teachers for not pursuing chartered teacher status are the huge investment of time and money it demands. "I didn't come into teaching to get rich, but eight to nine years to gain around 20 quid a week - thanks but no thanks!" is one of many critical comments made at the online TES teachers' forum.

Mrs Glancy-Durning believes money is the biggest single issue in teachers'

lack of enthusiasm for the programme. "It denies access to certain teachers and I don't think that's fair," she says.

"There has to be some kind of commitment from teachers but something should be done for the good ones who can't access the programme because they don't have the finances."

Just how much time and money teachers need to invest in becoming chartered depends critically on whether they pursue a claim for accreditation of prior learning after completing the first module or whether they take the alternative route of tackling up to a further nine modules through part-time university study.

A successful accreditation claim makes a big difference to the accounting.

Without it, achieving chartered status could cost over pound;6,000 for 10 modules and take years. For Mrs Glancy-Durning, the process was completed in one year at a cost of less than pound;2,000.

The reasons for this are rooted in her character and experience. Since qualifying as a primary teacher in 1977, she has had a varied career, including teaching English as an additional language and joining a two-year development project in Kwa-Zulu Natal as the only white person teaching English to classes of 60 to 80 teenagers.

"That was very different from primary teaching and quite a challenge. It was also great fun.

"We had few resources but the young people had a lot of respect for learning, which they saw as a way out of poverty. There was a lot of unrest at the time.

"It was a formative experience for me. It's when I developed my interest in multi-lingualism.

"When I came back I started a qualification for teaching English as an additional language, which put me on track to the Masters degree I finally completed in June."

All this experience had a "major impact" on Mrs Glancy-Durning, as a person and a teacher, she says, but some of it was not taken into account by the GTC in assessing her accreditation claim. "Their focus was very much on recent learning."

Working with the Jordanhill staff who delivered the self-assessment module, Mrs Glancy-Durning had distilled "a whole array of stuff" into three pieces of work that formed the core of her claim. They were her Masters research project on bilingual books, her role in co-ordinating the work that gained Bearsden Primary eco-school status in a year, and her contributions to colleagues' professional development through sharing her chartered teacher experiences.

"The biggest of these was my research project on talking books," she says.

She was looking at how to raise the profile of minority native languages, which many children are reluctant to speak in school. "We examined parents'

and pupils' attitudes and we worked in partnership with them, getting the kids to create stories which the parents then translated into Urdu, Cantonese and Arabic."

Mrs Glancy-Durning is pleased to be a chartered teacher now, having found the process of becoming one "very satisfying and rewarding". She is also delighted with her increase in salary.

Two other teachers at Bearsden Primary are pursuing the chartered teacher programme, but others who are equally well qualified are not.

"There are many, many exceptional teachers. My stage partner at Bearsden Primary is one of the best I've every seen, the model of a chartered teacher," says Mrs Glancy-Durning. "But, like a lot of others, she has decided not to pursue it. That would be a great shame."

While she would like to see more done to support first-class teachers, the principle of chartered teachers is one Mrs Glancy-Durning embraces with enthusiasm. "It is a concept whose time has come. I firmly believe that leadership should be distributed. Unless it is, change will not be effective, and change is the one constant we all face."

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