The review of the chartered teacher scheme has come up with few answers. Elizabeth Buie reports.
Some teachers are going through the chartered teacher programme despite being incompetent to teach, it is being claimed.
The review group was told of such cases which headteachers and education directors argue is a sign that they need the power to block unsuitable teachers from embarking on the programme. They argue that the system is not sufficiently rigorous in weeding out poor teachers.
Michael O'Neill, who chaired the review, is known to have pushed for an "affirmation of suitability" process to be set up. "Currently a teacher on a final written warning could enter the scheme," he told the group.
Ian Smith, dean of education at the University of the West of Scotland and a member of the group, also argued in favour of an affirmation scheme, warning that, unless there was a vetting scheme, more incompetent teachers would end up on the programme which could bring it into disrepute.
But the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association countered this, saying self-nomination was only about getting on to the scheme; teachers still had to prove themselves by successfully completing it.
Given that some critics of the modular route have argued it is too "academic", the group recommended that school-based evidence should become a more formal element of the programme. It rejected suggestions that classroom observation should be part of the process, stating that "snapshot observation did not always prove effective in capturing a true sample of evidence".
The use and impact of CTs in schools have been a major issue in the debate on the effectiveness of the scheme.
The report notes "a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence relating to inconsistent, insufficient and inappropriate deployment of chartered teachers, that some headteachers were unsure as to what they could require of CTs, and that some CTs wanted to do more or less than was being required of them".
But the group stopped short of recommending management-style duties which some heads were hoping for and instead recommended the development of a framework of duties based on the original national teachers' agreement, covering areas such as curriculum development and whole-school planning.
"This would strengthen the original aim of CTs, bringing benefit to the school and developing themselves while enhancing their status," the report said. "It was noted that, if the duties of a classroom teacher do not differ from those of a CT, there is the possibility of equal pay claims being made against authorities."
In line with the Scottish Government's support for flexible routes to achieve the Standard for Headship, the group recommended the development of other routes for achieving CT, subject to appropriate piloting and evaluation.
It also gave its backing to the plan to close access to the accreditation for prior learning route in 2008, adding that arrangements must be put in place to assess those participants currently on the APL route.
On the issue of eligibility criteria, the group recommends that, as the portfolios currently submitted to the General Teaching Council for Scotland are of variable quality, the council should review its standard for chartered teachers as well as draw up guidelines on the construction of a portfolio.
OVERLAP IN SALARIES
One of the most contentious elements of the chartered teacher scheme is the overlap in salary scale between some principal teachers and chartered teachers.
The review group discussed the case of one primary which had five PTs on its staff, all of whom moved back into classroom teaching once they gained chartered teacher status and the higher salary.
The school's only means of solving this management problem was to reduce the number of PT posts in order, through job-sizing, to increase PT salaries.
But neither the report produced by the review group nor the national pay deal agreed last week by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers sought to address the issue of pay differentials. At the top of the CT scale, the salary from this month is pound;39,063, while the PT scale ranges from pound;34,740 to pound;44,838.
FACTS AND FIGURES, SEPTEMBER 2007
521 chartered teachers, 104 by the modular route and 417 by the accreditation of prior learning route.
264 in primarypre-school; 257 in secondary
Around 3,800 teachers are undertaking the CT programme; 469 are still on the APL route.
169 CTs are aged 51-55; 126 are in the 46-50 age-bracket; 96 are 56-60; 50 are 41-45; 41 are 36-40; 21 are 31-35; 16 are 61-65; and two are 26-30.
There are far more female CTs than male: 437 to 84.