`Own' your College of Teaching - by paying for it

22nd May 2015 at 01:00
Crowdfunding will raise cash to help create chartered body

Teachers will be asked to make cash donations towards the cost of establishing a new College of Teaching within a matter of months, as plans for the chartered body take shape.

Claim Your College, the consortium behind the proposals, wants to raise a proportion of the estimated pound;12 million cost by "crowdfunding" among members of the profession.

Angela McFarlane, chief executive of the College of Teachers, which is part of the consortium, told TES: "We recognise it's terribly important that this organisation isn't simply paid for outside the profession.

"It must be owned by members of the profession from the outset - that's why we're exploring the crowdfunding model."

The consortium launched a campaign today to recruit a board of trustees to oversee the creation of the college.

Professor McFarlane said the Claim Your College group - formed of representatives from across the sector, including the Prince's Teaching Institute, the College of Teachers, the Teacher Development Trust and the SSAT schools network - would be willing to accept government funding towards the cost of establishing the royal college.

The group is due to discuss this with Department for Education officials next month.

Prime minister David Cameron announced in March that the government would be making a multimillion-pound contribution towards the college, but no money has changed hands so far.

Despite Mr Cameron's claim that ministers "won't meddle" with the project, Professor McFarlane insisted that any funding would have to be handed over on a "no strings attached" basis, and should never make up more than half of the college's funding.

"A government grant would be very nice but the founding of the college isn't dependent on it," she said. "The profession can do this for itself."

She said Claim Your College had held talks with ministers and officials at the Department for Education before the general election, but that an exact figure had not been suggested.

Fears for autonomy

Some teaching unions are sceptical about the college accepting government funds, however. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, told TES that former education secretary Michael Gove had endorsed a College of Teaching "because he saw it as replacing teaching unions".

"The fact is, Gove didn't commit money to it with no strings," Ms Keates said.

Kim Knappett, vice-president of the ATL union and a science teacher in South London, is a member of the selection committee that will choose the trustees of the new College of Teaching. She said that she would be "uncomfortable" about the college accepting any government funds.

"I think money from the government would mean that they would expect that their policies would be supported.I don't think the college should do that," she said. "It should be evidence- and research-based and that's not what we're seeing with government policy."

But Ms Keates said she did not think that a "prestigious national body" should be "funded on the basis of saying to teachers, can you put in pound;25 to help us finance it? That's the equivalent of passing round the hat."

Instead, she said, the College of Teaching should adopt a different model in which only qualified teachers could join, and in which they were given a guarantee of access to high-quality professional development.

The current proposals from the Claim Your College consortium would allow people without qualified teacher status to join as associate members, but Professor McFarlane said it was "very unlikely" that an unqualified teacher would be able to go on to achieve chartered status.

Claim Your College has so far raised about pound;500,000, almost pound;300,000 of which was a grant from the Mercers' Company's charitable foundation, which funds education, welfare, arts and Christian charities.

It hopes to raise a further pound;500,000 through the crowdfunding campaign, which will fund "mobilisation" costs to allow the organisation to start providing membership services such as events and peer mentoring from spring 2016. The campaign is expected to start in the autumn.

Professor McFarlane said the annual membership fee would be less than pound;100, and could end up being as little as pound;50 or pound;25. The college would also charge teachers a fee when they put themselves forward for chartered status.

A survey of 13,000 teachers carried out for Claim Your College this month found that 45 per cent had heard of the proposed College of Teaching, and just under a third would be willing to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign to support it.

Some 63 per cent said they would consider paying an annual membership fee to be part of the college.

When asked what the new college should offer its members, the top five responses were: professional knowledge sharing; a common code of practice; professional development; recognition by schools; and professional standards.

Key dates

September 2015

Board of trustees appointed for College of Teaching.

Autumn 2015

Crowdfunding campaign launched.

Christmas 2015 to Easter 2016

Chief executive appointed.

May to June 2016

College of Teachers hands charter to College of Teaching so it becomes Chartered College of Teaching. Membership services begin.

June 2016 to 2019

Chief executive and trustees set up and oversee working groups of teachers who will design, test and evaluate the standards to be set for chartered teaching status. Standards signed off by chief executive and trustees by 2019.


First teachers to receive chartered status.

`It must be a part of teachers' identity'

Angela McFarlane, chief executive of the College of Teachers, part of the Claim Your College coalition, writes:

Perhaps the biggest surprise about the College of Teaching is that it doesn't already exist. How come those who teach don't have a chartered professional body akin to the Law Society or the Institute of Mechanical Engineers?

Government tried to fill the gap with the General Teaching Councils (GTCs), but then decided that the English one wasn't working and closed it. The very fact that they could close it illustrates that it was never a real equivalent to those other professional bodies.

Other professions have independent associations, founded by members of those professions who come together and ultimately achieve a royal charter to incorporate their organisations. Such bodies cannot be closed by anyone but their members - nor can they be told what to do, who can join, what works for their profession or what effective practice looks like. In all these ways, they are not sisters to the GTCs.

The new College of Teaching - as proposed by the Claim Your College coalition in February and backed now by more than 200 educational organisations, including five teaching unions - will be an equivalent to all those other institutes, colleges and societies which set and uphold the standards of professional practice in areas as diverse as surgery and marketing. It will be independent and voluntary.

The College of Teaching cannot and will not require all teachers to join - it must create an offer that is so compelling that teachers want to get involved. Joining this professional community must become a key part of their identity as a teacher, helping them to develop and grow in the classroom, and to share experience and expertise.

To read the full version of Professor McFarlane's piece, go to www.tesconnect.comnews


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