In 2004 I became a chartered teacher. One year on, I'm frequently asked: "Do you do anything different now? Surely you have to do something to earn the extra money?"
Well, the answer is no. I don't actually do anything different.
Great, isn't it? I get paid nearly pound;7,000 extra for doing the job I enjoy. At the top of the main salary scale, I'd be earning pound;30,399.
As it is, I'm earning pound;37,269 as a chartered teacher, for doing exactly the same job.
Some people say: "But you always do lots of extra things anyway." True. But it's also true of thousands of other teachers. Isn't it about time that more of them received the recognition and pay they deserve?
Teachers and chartered teachers do the same job. So what's the difference?
To become a chartered teacher you have to demonstrate enhanced professional action, practice that is informed by reading and research, personal commitment and professional values. Thousands of teachers are doing exactly that. The hundred or so of us who have already become chartered teachers didn't pioneer these things to meet the standard. That's just the way we work, like so many others.
The process of becoming a chartered teacher should be about reflecting more deeply on our work. Becoming a chartered teacher doesn't change the job we do. It's simply a way of recognising what we've been doing for years: studying, learning, developing, working to improve our teaching and finding better ways for our pupils to learn.
We're doing the same job that we did before, but now the Scottish Executive has recognised the value of it. They've recognised the value of the classroom teacher to the educational experiences of children.
Chartered teachers who take the modular route will gain a Masters degree in addition to their chartered teacher status. By studying postgraduate level courses which are relevant to their teaching, they gain an additional qualification which may be more transferable.
Many of us who took the Accreditation for Prior Learning route have also undertaken postgraduate study that is closely related to our work. For instance, I'm coming to the end of an MEd with the Open University.
Preparing a submission for chartered teacher status made me think more carefully about the impact of these studies on my teaching.
Postgraduate qualifications don't automatically make you a chartered teacher, even though some candidates might feel that they should. Chartered teacher status is about the impact of your learning on present and future practice. This can be academic or experiential learning. It's perfectly possible to become a chartered teacher without having done any postgraduate study.
My APL submission was based on four areas of experience. Only one of these was related to my academic studies. The others were involvement in school development projects or improvements in practice arising from non-accredited in-service. They were just the sort of things that most experienced teachers do.
So, if we're all doing the same job, why have a chartered teacher column in The TES Scotland? Well, I have to admit to being biased. I think it's great that Scottish teachers have this opportunity for recognition of good practice.
I'm proud to be a chartered teacher and I believe that there are many teachers who deserve the same recognition. I also believe that Scottish education will benefit from the increased confidence and professional self-esteem of the growing number of teachers who are systematically reflecting on and improving their practice.
However, I know that there are contentious issues surrounding the chartered teacher programme, and I don't think it's perfect. The cost, for example, is a big deterrent for many candidates. The General Teaching Council's call for module 1 to be funded is a small step, but only a small step, in the right direction.
I think there is interest in the programme, whether from the slowly but steadily increasing number of teachers who are becoming involved, the 6,500 who initially expressed an interest or those who proclaim that the scheme is dead, maybe because they don't like the idea of other people getting paid more money for doing the same job.
Annie McSeveney is a chartered teacher at Braidwood Primary, Carluke, South LanarkshireIf you have any comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org