So where do we go from here?

9th June 2006 at 01:00
The creation of the chartered teacher grade poses something of a conundrum for the Scottish system. What is the role of this emerging group of classroom teachers who have enhanced their teaching skills? They were undoubtedly good teachers before they embarked on the programme - interested and committed. Now, however, they have more confidence in their abilities since they "know that they know" because they have the evidence before them. That means they are more prepared to question accepted practice, to tell their head of department or headteacher that they don't agree with such and such a practice because of X, or that such and such an initiative is unlikely to work because of Y. They can back up their instinctive reactions.

The trouble is that, while in some schools senior staff are only too delighted to be able to call on their expertise, elsewhere they are regarded as a threat. In some less collegiate staffrooms, the prevailing attitude is one of hostility to colleagues who go the extra mile. And so, some chartered teachers behave like islands because they feel isolated - and that, in turn, means the potential benefits of collaboration are lost.

Robert Brown, the Deputy Education Minister, is right to suggest that the chartered teacher grade will evolve. The teacher unions will be watching closely, however, to ensure that chartered teachers are not forced into the very management routes they were promised they could avoid. There seemed to be some support for this at last week's national conference (page one) when a call was made for all headteachers to have been chartered teachers.

Another cloud beckons on the horizon. If chartered teachers, based in their classrooms, are earning more than some principal teachers and primary depute heads, will this act as a disincentive for the next cohort of potential middle managers? By creating a regiment of crack foot-soldiers, will we be threatening the existence of the next generation of the officer class?

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