Sour taste for the new professionals

9th June 2006 at 01:00
Some chartered teachers feel isolated in their schools and prefer to hide their new status from colleagues. This emerged last week at the first ever national conference for chartered teachers and teachers aspiring to the CT standard, which also heard calls for them to have a management role.

Chartered teachers reported hostility from some headteachers and managers, as they struggled to find a non-management role within their school that still reflected their enhanced skills.

One group reported principal teachers as saying: "You are going to be getting more money than me and I am a PT. What are you going to be doing to be worth more money than me?"

Others reported a growing sense of professionalism within themselves, but while they wanted to be valued this did not always happen.

To loud applause, one delegate suggested that all headteachers should first have become chartered teachers on the basis that, to be a good head, you should first of all be a good teacher.

Robert Brown, Deputy Education Minister, did not address the question of whether chartered teacher status should effectively be a route into management, but he did raise the temperature in the emerging debate about the role of chartered teachers.

Mr Brown told the conference that the national agreement had introduced the chartered teacher grade to enable good teachers to "stay in the classroom without taking on managerial duties". But he did hint at future change, saying: "As it (the chartered teacher programme) beds down, it will adapt and change."

He described different ways in which CTs could contribute to education - as sources of advice to other schools, reinforcing continuing professional development, enhancing the work of the school and challenging weaknesses.

Mr Brown also referred to findings in the report by the Teachers' Agreement Communications (TAC) team on management restructuring, that chartered teachers could develop a role in mentoring probationers. He pointed out that the report had found some heads were unclear about how to engage some chartered teachers in the wider agenda of the school.

But Mr Brown predicted an exciting future, with the recent Audit Scotland report into the teachers' agreement showing that three out of four younger teachers believed they would join the programme later in their career.

Mr Brown highlighted the high number of teachers in their 50s who had joined the CT programme, but queried whether this was to improve their pension.

Hugh Donnelly, an Educational Institute of Scotland learning representative at Hillpark Secondary in Glasgow, said that it was important for chartered teachers to overcome the "culture of compliance" in Scottish schools.

"Colleagues say: 'Why are you doing this? Why are you drawing attention to yourself?' The management is saying: 'You are only paid to teach - management is our job'."

Jenny Reeves, leader of the chartered teacher programme at Stirling University, described the CT programme as the "first chance we have had at a national level to take the issue of teaching really seriously".

Dr Reeves highlighted the importance of teachers being given the opportunity for critical reflection and the chance to be curious again. "I am appalled that some teachers have had this disposition to enquire knocked out of them," she said.

"They have been so busy with forward planning that they have not got time for the people and things that they should be thinking about."

She also said that chartered teachers had a duty to work collaboratively and in a collegiate fashion. "You have got to be generous about taking forward what is happening in teaching and learning for everybody."

Leader 22

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