Titles for excellence

29th October 2004 at 01:00
A new chartered teacher status would recognise expertise but not be linked to pay rises. Karen Thornton reports

Welsh classroom teachers and heads of department could aspire to new titles equivalent to the chartered status enjoyed by colleagues in Scotland or advanced skills teachers (ASTs) in England.

The General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) is to consult in January on proposals for new professional standards which would recognise classroom excellence and the additional skills developed by heads of department and primary subject leaders.

Teachers would have to demonstrate their strengths in, for example, classroom practice or mentoring colleagues. But there would be no extra pay, and one union is warning of extra workload.

The plans for a Welsh equivalent of chartered status would form part of a new "professional development framework", being developed by a GTCW working group. It is looking at how new standards beyond the legally-required qualified status could be used to map out career paths for teachers, and how their continuing professional development (CPD) can be accredited and recognised.

Long term, the GTCW is considering whether professional development training providers should be inspected and registered, to help guarantee the quality of courses.

Gary Brace, chief executive of the GTCW, said: "How do we recognise the majority of teachers, who don't see themselves in a career in leadership and management but just want to do an excellent job in the classroom?

"Teachers are already doing things like CPD and academic qualifications, but have not been recognised for them.

"Scotland has gone the chartered teacher route. AST is a pay point. They are steps or milestones, not hurdles, to careers. We are asking if we should have something like this in Wales."

The GTCW's consultation paper is expected to propose two "milestones", recognising "classroom excellence" and "middle leaders" such as secondary heads of year or special educational needs co-ordinators.

But there would be no pay benefit - unlike ASTs, who are placed on a higher pay spine (pound;30,501-pound;48,657 outside London). AST status is technically available in Wales, but no posts have been created and only one such teacher is registered with the GTCW.

Heledd Hayes, education officer with the National Union of Teachers Cymru, believes teachers will be interested in chartered status even if there are no financial incentives.

"If teachers take on a different role, they should be paid more. But this is more about teachers' professionalism, and they really enjoy professional development."

But Geraint Davies, secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers Cymru, said: "How do you achieve a chartered status? Will it come from presenting a portfolio of evidence?

"The GTCW's ideas could be workload-intensive for teachers."

The proposals are not without their critics from within the council. Tim Cox, a council and NASUWT member, said: "I can't see why any teacher would want to jump through hoops to achieve chartered teacher status without more pay being involved."

But he also fears the proposed changes could strengthen arguments for a different pay structure in Wales - and possibly worse terms and conditions compared to colleagues in England.

Anna Brychan, director of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, said: "If Wales introduces a system similar to chartered status in Scotland, this should be reflected in pay and be consistent with the teachers' pay and conditions document."

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