The pound;600 obstacle course

6th June 2003 at 01:00
The concept of chartered teachers was a good one but it was launched without the practicalities being thought through, says Penny Glenday

H, the arrogance of me. When I first heard about the chartered teacher scheme, I was foolhardy enough to think I was halfway there. I had completed my postgraduate diploma in special educational needs. I had become involved in other research through the General Teaching Council for Scotland and with the educational psychology service.

I not only liked my job, but thought I did it quite well (as I said, oh the arrogance of me.) The diploma had impacted on my teaching. Much of it had been school based and I had developed new courses, looked at ways of managing a difficult class.

I had begun to understand the politics behind the national decisions made in special education, started questioning some aspects of school policy and learnt how to communicate better with colleagues. I began to feel a specialist in my field.

Full-time teaching is exhausting. Being a working parent is also exhausting. Taking on postgraduate studying requires further effort still, so don't let anyone underestimate the difficulty and stress of taking on units of study at this level or the commitment necessary.

Now we face accreditation for prior learning to achieve chartered teacher status. This requires a huge leap of faith since there is no guarantee that any of my work will count. As we are told: "The onus will be on the individual to prove its continuing impact".

Oh, and that will now cost pound;600. And another pound;600 to assess it.

And did I mention that it will be nearly 9,000 words plus evidence to claim six modules? Em . . . and it might take about a year or more to assess, because they are not sure if they have enough tutors. And what criteria will they use to decide whether we meet their criteria?

And, keep up . . . they might credit us with up to six units of prior learning, or else the full 12 (but that will cost another pound;600 on top). Why not eight? Who makes these decisions? And even if you claim and get the whole standard, you will still only be awarded 10.

And . . . actually I finished my diploma five years ago, so that might not count. The lady from the university said maybe they could be flexible. How dare they question how relevant that qualification is. They are the very people who produced the courses and marked them. If they don't already know, who does? And nobody questions my 25-year-old degree.

At a recent meeting, made up almost totally of women like me, the discord was palpable. We did postgraduate courses for no reason other than to further our understanding and knowledge. We shouldn't have to demonstrate our worth.

The reality is that I am not sure I have the energy or the desire to write those 9,000 words. But I think there will be quite a few teachers just reaching the top of their scales who will launch into it and their sole motivation will be money. No one will ever come back and ask them if they are applying it in their daily lives. Schools will be awash with all the new courses being developed, the hands-on projects. Will they be able to get on with their daily lives of straightforward education?

The concept of chartered teachers was a good one. But it was launched without consideration and without the practicalities being thought through.

The very least they could do is reward those with previous similar postgraduate training by automatically putting us on the scale, and start the new courses from scratch for those with no prior learning.

Arrogant I might be, but seriously let down . . . yes I am surely that.

Penny Glenday teaches at Brechin High.

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