Ship with many routes to charter

5th May 2006 at 01:00
Almost exactly a year ago, Hugh Reilly wrote in The Scotsman, under the headline "New scheme with that sinking feeling", about the chartered teacher programme which, according to him, was "dead in the water". He seemed to think it was about to sink without trace.

So what progress has been made since the McCrone report of May 2000 introduced the concept of chartered teachers? In 2001, McCrone stated that "progression through the chartered teacher grade will be by qualification.

The details of this have still to be fully developed". Those details took a couple of years to emerge - hardly surprising for such an important development in teacher education.

When the programme started, no one was sure of the route, but the principle that progression should be by qualification was fundamental. For this reason it was planned that the universities would offer modular masters courses leading towards chartered teacher. Module 1, on self-evaluation, was to be compulsory. Some universities offered completely new courses, others offered refits of existing masters modules. The big difference between them lay in the cost.

Some teachers who had already completed their masters thought that they had arrived at their destination. They felt disappointed and angry when they realised that they still had far to go and, particularly, when they learned the cost. Existing masters courses were subsidised by government funding.

The new chartered teacher modules were not.

For these teachers, and for others with experiential learning which could be considered equivalent to a masters, an alternative route was provided.

When the first teachers passed module 1 in 2003, planning for this route was not complete. Staff were recruited and a structure developed.

Early in the following year, candidates began registering for the General Teaching Council for Scotland's accreditation for prior learning route to chartered teacher. Meanwhile, the universities continued to develop their own routes, offering core and optional modules at masters level. They also offered accreditation for prior learning for up to six modules, or half of the course.

By the middle of 2004, chartered teachers were beginning to arrive at their destination. The following year, those completing the university route were joining the gradually increasing stream of new arrivals. Numbers were not huge, but there were enough who were prepared to brave the unknown because they felt the destination was worth reaching.

Now those who like to knock the chartered teacher programme seem to be fewer in number and less convinced of the rightness of their viewpoint. It would take more than the odd icy response to stop this ship.

The voyages are not only for pioneers and adventurers. They are becoming normal planned aspects of continuing professional development for many teachers. There are different routes, different costs, but the destination is the same.

The routes are not fixed and rigid. There is scope for change and development. Edinburgh University, for example, has made far-reaching changes in the content of its module 1. The GTC has made various changes to its accreditation route in response to feedback. The programme is still at an early stage. It's good that the opinions of participants are heard and valued. Changes will continue to be made to allow the programme to meet the CPD needs of the teaching profession . Hopefully, Module 1 will be offered free to all teachers.

So has the ship sunk? No, Mr Reilly. I think it will go on and on.

Annie McSeveney is a chartered teacher at Braidwood Primary in Carluke, South Lanarkshire

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