Rebel yell bursts in on royal college's chorus of support
The planned new College of Teaching has failed to win the backing of school staff and would bring "no demonstrable benefit for the profession", teachers warned this week.
In the most outspoken criticism of the plans yet, the NASUWT teaching union used its annual conference to pass a unanimous vote against the proposed college, claiming that it had no "groundswell of support".
The idea of an independent royal college to champion high standards in the teaching profession has been backed by both the Conservatives and Labour, along with the NUT teaching union and the Independent Schools Council. The Claim Your College coalition, which is drawing up plans for the body, is currently recruiting an independent board to develop detailed proposals.
But NASUWT members expressed concern about the independence of the college and questioned what purpose it would serve. The union's conference in Cardiff heard that there was no "clear consensus" on the functions it should carry out.
Honorary treasurer Brian Cookson told delegates: "It is dismal that some organisations and individuals that purport to represent teachers are.advocating support for a College of Teaching which has no demonstrable benefit for the profession or for wider society."
He added: "There's no clarity on its aims, yet the momentum gathers as the great and the good sign up."
The conference unanimously called for "an independent system of teacher regulation that has oversight of professional standards", but said a College of Teaching was not the answer.
National executive member Paul Watkins said: "There's very little consensus from those involved in regards to its role, function and remit. Many of the potential aims proposed are contradictory. It's highly unlikely that the college will be established on a coherent basis."
He also raised concerns that membership could be made compulsory by employers and that people without qualified teacher status would be allowed to join. "I ask you, would you expect the Royal College of Surgeons to admit butchers who are a little bit handy with a blade?" Mr Watkins added.
The NUT, however, has responded more warmly to the plans. Assistant general secretary Amanda Brown told TES that the union would welcome power being transferred from ministers to an independent body. "That's a way of taking regulation back to the profession: it's a space which is clearly there for the profession to take," she said.
On the horizon
Meanwhile, the teaching union conferences passed a number of resolutions with major implications for the next government.
Delegates at the NUT overwhelmingly backed plans to ballot members for strike action if no additional funding for schools was made available in the Autumn Statement to address the looming "crisis" from increases in schools' National Insurance and pension contributions.
NUT members also voted for a boycott of the new baseline assessments in literacy and numeracy for four-year-olds. The tests will be piloted from this summer before being rolled out across the country from September 2016. The conference agreed to "begin a campaign towards a boycott" in the summer term, with a view to this being in place for the formal introduction of the tests next year.
For full coverage of the annual conferences, visit news.tesconnect.com