Let’s get behind the Chartered College of Teaching.


Back in 2014 I heard about the idea for a College of Teaching and I wrote this blogpost outlining why I, as an ordinary classroom teacher, was so excited at the prospect of what this organisation could do for me and why I was so desperate for it to get off the ground. Four years later, it exists and I’m not a member – not even at affiliate level.

By the time the organisation was formed, I wasn’t teaching full time in a school any more, and while I still and always will describe myself as a teacher (and do still teach), the fact that I don’t have the role full time in one school means I don’t feel it’s my place to be in the college, much as I support it. I do what I can to encourage others to join – my husband was one of the first, even if he never did receive his lovely member’s card! And he appreciates the access to journals and the editions of Impact he’s received and found useful. But I didn’t join, because what I wrote about four years ago and what excited me so much, was the opportunity for every day classroom teachers to lead their own professional organisation.

Now I was that kind of teacher who was obsessive and lived for the job. I had no problem ignoring my own kids, health, sleep, whatever, to campaign, write blogs, read edu books, whatever it took…Frankly, it was an addiction. I know that was unhealthy but I would have happily loaded onto my 70 hour week, an application to stand for council. It may well have broken our family and me. The fact of the matter is that although many teachers might love to join, most simply don’t have the time to get actively involved. For those that do, it’s amazing – go for it. But for the silent majority, there needs to be an acceptance that the small fee (the price of a couple of cocktails) and occasional browse of Impact is enough because there is enough faith in the organisation to represent them and fight for their profession. And there’s the rub.

The organisation needs people to help organise and be involved. It needs to be grassroots enough so that people can do this. But workload means the people its aimed at, simply can’t. So what can we do?

We could look to allowing sabbaticals and secondments. But it takes money and there’s too little around. See below.

We could trust people with decades of teaching experience but who for now are doing something else to speak for us, but that leaves the organisation open to the accusation that it’s not for teachers. To allow that, we’d have to accept that sometimes we need champions who have the time and head space to represent us – and that takes trust.

We could get to a point where involvement in the Chartered College at council level counted in your hours for your job. That it was costed and paid for. But where would that money come from? Well I guess it’s possible that if they had enough members, the cost could be covered by membership fees. And here’s the thing…

All the very best things that the College could accomplish, depends on members. At the moment, in its infancy, it is dependent on DfE funding and that undermines its independence. As soon as it can become self funding, it can be the organisation we need – influencing policy, offering career recognition, championing research and information, promoting the image of the profession among the wider public, offering balance to media bias about teaching, holding policy and practice to account – just being there to prop teachers up and support them…you know,  all the things we say we want. And to do that people have to join. There has to be a period of holding breath and trusting in that age old process of forming, storming, norming and performing. That takes time.

Does that make me a hypocrite, asking you to join while I don’t? I hope not. I’m keeping my distance precisely because I want it to belong to teachers who are doing the slog, living the grind and making the difference. But if they – you – don’t throw their weight behind it – then this sliver of hope will slither into the ether and we’ll never know what might have been. Surely, surely, it’s worth a punt?


ADHD and Ofsted


In The Times this morning, a sharp increase in the prescriptions of Ritalin to control ADHD has reportedly drawn the response from Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector for Schools at Ofsted, that “parents are medicating away their children’s bad behaviour.” Continue reading “ADHD and Ofsted”

A Rich Curriculum


Back in 1991, Martin Haberman, as part of his life long work into how education could tackle disadvantage, wrote “The Pedagogy of Poverty” in which he explores how the accepted norms and routines of teaching life act to hold down the very children we seek to lift up. In our work, Hywel Roberts and I refer to this idea of a Pedagogy of Poverty widely, but we need to explore how it fits in with current ideas about ‘rich’ knowledge and core knowledge curriculum models.  Continue reading “A Rich Curriculum”

Wake up! We’re doing this.

I’m not going to comment much on this. This is simply a list of tweets and messages I’ve had from parents this week.

  1. Week before sats my daughter had a meltdown, We were away with family. “I can’t take it I can’t take it I can’t take it” it was late at night and we couldn’t get through to her.
  2. I’m worried about my daughter’s mental health, she is already coming home crying about SATs and she’s in y5.
  3. At my son’s secondary school there was club in Year 7 only for kids who did well in their SATS. They went on trips and had a range of opportunities that the other didn’t have access to.
  4. Son’s school has ‘potential high achievers’ – I was naive enough to think that every student is a potential high achiever. Son has never been on a trip, been there almost 2 yrs.
  5. My 11 year old grandson, who has always been ok in English and excellent in Maths and Science, was taken out of a science lesson each fortnight for an English ‘intervention.’ Under new standards in the new curriculum, his English skills are now deemed to be weak; he won’t reach the expected standard in the English SATs. Double whammy. Extra lessons in a subject that does not enthuse him but which he was doing alright in at the expense of one of his favourite subjects.
  6. The KS2 grades were my bete noir all through our middle child’s schooling because everytime I raised concerns that she was drifting the teacher would quote the KS2 grades and show me graphs extrapolated from them to ‘prove’ that my daughter was on track. So they were expecting C’s. In year 11 teachers suddenly started saying, “We hadn’t realised she was so able. She could get an A!’ But it was far far too late.
  7. His school has been working on not much else but SATs for months. Too depressing.
  8.  (At a) painful meeting with Heads to tell them why I was pulling her out, they countered she would miss the school trip to theme park and as soon as she returned to school she’d have to take them. That made me speechless.
  9. My oldest got top results in SATS & referral to CAMHS with severe anxiety. Worst year of our lives.I’d back any parent boycotting them.
  10. When daughter 2 went to secondary she was set according to her SATS & the ceiling for her progress was set. The message she got was there’s no point trying because teachers don’t believe I can do it.
  11. My daughter suffered a massive panic attack this evening in direct relation to these and I had to rush her to the doctors – and I am desperately seeking information on what I can do for her. She suffers with anxiety anyhow, and even though she’s meeting the standard for her english, she has been told by her teacher (on parents evening) that it isn’t good enough as she only just scraped through, and how will her fail in maths look on the league table?  Passing her english has been like climbing Everest for her, and this has totally crushed her.

And a couple from teachers:-

  1. One of our kids wrote”I’m dumb”all over the last few pages of her Maths reasoning paper. We spent all year convincing her she’s good at Maths
  2. I had to calm down & a counsel a year 6 girl on Wednesday who had a severe anxiety attack, couldn’t stop sobbing because of the fear of opening the maths reasoning paper & not being able to do it. Was all I could do not to cry seeing her like this.

There are dozens more of these stories. Not a single one of us went into teaching to be the other person on the end of these tales. A system that puts so much pressure on us that our values warp and we become blind to the impact we have needs to be changed. We need to wake up and act.