There is often justification for teachers’ complaints about the levels of government intrusion into their professional lives. They argue that time spent filling in forms and ticking boxes could be put to better use in the development of effective lesson plans and teacher training courses. However, the Government is now seeking to reduce the bureaucratic burden and assist in the introduction of a Royal College of Teaching.
The plans for the Royal College have been outlined by the Prince’s Teaching Institute. They have highlighted the importance of improving teacher standards, providing valuable opportunities for professional development and collating evidence prior to making educational policy changes. The college would be organised and managed by independent members of the teaching profession and operate in a similar fashion to the medical Royal Colleges.
Many of the UK’s high-profile educational experts have said they are in favour of the Royal College. London-based teacher Eugene Dapper said, “The absence of a professional body for teaching has resulted in teachers’ professional practice being determined more by the political cycle than by research and evidence. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the direction in which the profession is heading.”
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan made a pledge of financial support for the development of the new college with the government playing no part in its set-up. This was regarded as a major achievement by the outspoken MP Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West), who has campaigned hard for government to keep its “mucky mitts” away from the proposals. She had vehemently pointed out that her fellow ministers were fearful of relinquishing control to the unions. However, continued governmental interference would be likely to deter the brightest graduates from entering the teaching profession.
It has been suggested there could be an effective separation in the roles of the government and the professionally regulated Royal College of Teaching. The college members could expect access to a great range of courses and relevant learning materials. They could take part in digital discussions about the most effective teaching methods and school policies. However, the government would still be expected to provide guidance and set regulations on such essential matters as child safeguarding and the allocation of finance.
Prospects of success
The success of a Royal College of Teaching cannot be predicted with any level of certainty. It is expected to require £12m of seed funding during the first five years of development. There will be an annual membership fee of £70, combined with specific charges for different courses. Exceptional quality will have to be maintained if the Royal College is to play a key role in the educational sector. John Westhead, of the Teach First graduate recruitment scheme, said the Royal College must “build a brand, a reputation, an image and a reality that is unique, recognised and respected”.
The Prince’s Trust has claimed the Royal College of Teaching would benefit the nation’s educational workers in a variety of ways. It could provide teachers and support workers with the opportunity to interact and develop the best solutions for continued progression. The most experienced educators could eventually take responsibility for designing the curriculum and rewarding significant school achievement. They may enjoy an increased sense of independence and freedom from restrictive governmental bureaucracy. However, the prospects of success depend upon the commitment and faith of educational practitioners throughout the UK.
What do you think about the proposed Royal College of Teaching? Would it play a key role in the development and improvement of the nation’s schools? Please let us know your thoughts.