Science gets royal seal of approval

15th September 2006 at 01:00
The first chartered science teachers gain their awards next week, with maths, technology and geography hoping to follow.

Teaching will join engineering, accountancy and surveying when the first chartered science teachers are given their awards next week.

Up to 10 teachers will be granted the status by the Association for Science Education in a move which could herald a revolution in professional development and eventually lead to higher pay.

The charter means the teachers will have the Queen's official seal of approval. Lord Adonis, schools minister, is keen on the award as a way of increasing the role of subject associations in teachers' professional development.

A number of other subject associations, including those for maths, geography and technology, are interested in following the ASE and gaining a Royal Charter from the Privy Council. This would allow them to bestow chartered status on their own members.

In the long-term, it is suggested that a generic chartered teacher status could be awarded by the General Teaching Council.

More science teachers are expected to be given the award, which is open to advisers as well as primary and secondary teachers, after Christmas, with regular awards to follow.

Derek Bell, chief executive of the ASE, was reluctant to say how many teachers he expected to eventually gain the award. Speaking at the BA Festival of Science in Norwich, he said: "Teaching gets a lot of criticism from bodies such as the Confederation of British Industry. This is a way of saying, 'actually I'm a bloody good teacher'. If you have been in the profession five years or more you should be able to reach these standards.

If not, perhaps you should question whether you should be in teaching."

Stephen Burrowes, science advanced skills teacher at Settlebeck high school, Sedbergh, Cumbria, is hoping to get the award next week. "I think this is really worthwhile. It has really made me think about my professional development in the past and the future, he said. "It would be recognition for what I am already doing. If I was moving job, it is something I would use to get extra money."

The creation of the award will also add fuel to the already heated debate about whether science and maths teachers should be paid more than their counterparts in other subjects.

The National Union of Teachers has written to the School Teachers' Review Body asking it to again reject proposals from the Government and its social partners that maths and science teachers should get higher salaries. It said recruitment figures are as severe in subjects such as modern languages and religious education as they are in science and maths.

In 20056, recruitment to science was 91 per cent of the target set by the Training Development Agency. Maths recruitment was 85 per cent of its target. Recruitment to music, design and technology, and religious education was below 90 per cent of their respective targets, while only 79 per cent of the number of teachers required for modern foreign languages were recruited.

Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary, said: "We do not doubt that there are serious problems with the recruitment and retention of science and maths teachers. However, such problems will continue until there is a significant increase in pay across the teaching profession."

* jon.slater@tes.co.uk

Festival of Science 17

YOUR ROUTE TO ACHIEVING THE NEW AWARD

How to gain chartered science teacher status

* Teachers will be expected to show they have had a real impact on their pupils or on the teaching of science in their school.

* Advisers will have to show they have improved practice among teachers.

* Award-holders will have to show they deserve to retain it every five years.

* Both are eligible after four years service What it means

* Unlike other professionals with chartered status, chartered science teachers will initially earn no extra money.

* Those who gain the award are expected to have a greater chance of success when applying for senior positions such as advanced skills teacher, head of department or excellent teacher status.

How other professions fare A chartered engineer earns on average pound;53,100 compared with incorporated engineers (pound;40,500) and engineering technicians (pound;33,800). Earnings of chartered surveyors range from about pound;20-40,000.

Technical surveyors typically earn between pound;14,500 and Pounds 30,000.

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