College of Teaching – How can professional standards be meaningful and driven by teachers?

college-illustration-929Anne-Marie Duguid and Fiona Aubrey-Smith write…

With most of the teaching profession now aware of the emerging College of Teaching, discussion and debate has shifted to the exact nature of what the College will provide and specifically who its members will be. The Founding Trustees are working hard to move the debate forwards.

Working quietly in the background have been a voluntary group of professionals who are passionate about ensuring that the College of Teaching – which belongs to all of us in the teaching profession – does not reinvent the wheel.

What could the College of Teaching Membership & Fellowship standards be?

This group, with no name or official remit, have been bringing together teachers, headteachers, leaders and academics, and through these practical discussions have pulled together ideas from across the profession to form a tangible and genuinely partnership-based proposal; Membership and Fellowship – The profession’s partnership proposal to the College of Teaching.

Instigated by a group of enthusiastic teachers, coordinated by volunteers, and written after countless iterations and revisions, this document has attracted the interest of thousands of teachers and highly respected teacher influences such as John Hattie. This interest and enthusiasm has been pivotal to further refinements and improvements, and is ongoing – the document summarising the current proposal (currently 23 pages) is, and will continue to be, a working document.

So why bring this draft to the table today? We’ve been working on this for the last two years simply because we believe there must something concrete to discuss and debate. Otherwise, the conversation about the purpose and work of the College will stay at conceptual level rather than looking at the practicalities of what teachers will be doing.

We need to be able to offer some answers to questions such as: As a teacher – what’s in it for me? How would being part of this professional body make me a better teacher?

We need a meaty discussion about who the ‘members’ will be, and what kinds of membership levels there might be, before we can determine what the College’s activity really will be (you can’t play a decent game of football if you only have hockey players on your team).

We had been planning to keep working on these drafts in the background, with an ever-increasing number of people, until such time as the Board of the College is ready to start looking in detail at the propositions.

After all it is for that Board to make the final decisions about the shape and direction, let alone the content of the College’s work. But, with articles and messages from some in the profession being critical about the lack of teacher-led and content-centric activity, maybe now is the time to bring this proposal to the surface scale – because that’s exactly what this is all about.

It’s a real work of collaboration, which brings together what already exists, and builds on the best teacher standards in the world.

But it’s not finished – it needs your input. This is meant to be a proposition that involves everyone, so we are asking you to get involved now. Make this what you think it should be.


There are two ways to get involved, neither of which will need you to travel or seek supply cover! You might want to pull this into a meeting discussion or collate a response with friends/colleagues, or you might want to respond individually. We don’t mind – the more the merrier!

We would really appreciate it if you could spare some time to take a detailed look – and you can either print the proposal, annotate and post to us, or add comments to the pdf and email it. These are just a few of the questions we’ve been asking so far, but we’re keen to hear any and all ideas…

  • Teachers and school leaders – How would the proposal work for you and your colleagues? Do the criteria fairly reflect the stages of teaching expertise as you see them? How do you think you would find the process of application?
  • Partners – How could the proposal incorporate the ways in which you accredit teachers so that they have as simple a task as possible when submitting their application to the College?
  • Academics – How can we further refine the criteria so that the statements are robust and encompass the breadth and depth expected of a professional body, without making them cumbersome and out of touch with classroom reality?

Perhaps for a starter you would care to look at anything in the proposal that catches your eye – for good or ill. Are your main interests and concerns more to do with standards? Accreditation? Progression? All these have their own sections in the proposal.

Or you could look more into the detail of, say, leadership of learning. Or, under accreditation, when self-assessment will be accepted and when other evidence will be required – under the proposals as they stand now.

Have a look at the rest of the proposal, and see where you agree and where you would like to see changes. And, most importantly, how you would like to be involved.

We’d welcome any purposeful and constructive input – it’s great to have reviews or general opinions, but what is really constructive and helpful is where contributions include practical annotation and suggestions for improvement.

We don’t profess to have all the answers and we certainly don’t profess to be the experts here, but what we do have is enthusiasm and willingness to coordinate and facilitate so that those with the answers and expertise can come together through this partnership proposal.

We know you’re all very busy and have far too much to fit into each day already, but one small thought from you might be a huge leap for the profession.

Thank you in advance (and anticipation) for your time and input to this proposal. What we’ll do is continue to collate the feedback and ideas, and will post periodic updates to the proposal incorporating these. Keep an eye on this page for the latest version – the next draft is likely to be May 2016 so make sure you help to shape it!

Fiona Aubrey-Smith & Anne-Marie Duguid

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