Sue Williamson, Chief Executive SSAT, writes…
The future of the country depends on the quality of the teaching workforce. Research from academics such as Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves demonstrates that if you want a high performing education system, a competitive economy and a cohesive society, then you need the very best, most highly qualified teachers who have a deep and broad repertoire of knowledge and skill. Teachers who love working with young people, are prepared to co-construct learning with their students, and recognise that they must continue their own learning.
At the SSAT National Conference next week, we are shaping The new professionalism – SSAT is bringing together internationally renowned academics that have spent their lives working in and with different education systems. Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves have collaborated together for many years and their latest book – Professional Capital – focuses on the vital importance and ways of developing outstanding teachers. Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert develop leaders and work with teachers to develop their thinking and practice on learning in Canada. Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas from Expansive Education are also with us for the two days. Six world-class academics, committed to working with over 600 school leaders and teachers who will bring their knowledge and experience to the design of the teaching profession.
I have always advocated passionately that school leaders must lead the education agenda. That leadership is so much more powerful when it is collaborative and brings in the knowledge and expertise of other stakeholders – academics, parents, employers, and students. The National Conference is an action planning session, not a talk shop. There will be debate but when we finish on Friday 6 December we must have an agreed way forward. Andy and Michael will capture this in their pamphlet in the redesigning schooling series, published next spring.
If we do not act now, the teaching profession will be devalued. We will have allowed the idea that anyone can teach with no qualifications and limited training to permeate the system. We will have accepted that you do not need experience of different roles within school before you become a school leader.
Like many colleagues I enjoy Master Chef and Michel Roux Jr. always asks the participants about their training. Most have three years in a catering college and then work in different roles in kitchens enhancing their skills and knowledge until they become head chef. They have to know how to produce the classic dishes. Surely, this should be the baseline for developing teachers. Every year our teachers should be working to enhance their understanding of how young people learn and testing new tools for learning.
Teachers make lives – let us design the profession to make more lives.