I wish to publicly applaud the appointment of Dame Alison Peacock to be the first CEO of the College of Teaching. Since entering the teaching profession I have seen the need for a professional body to act as a “buffer” between our political masters and the coalface of schools. As I see it, the teaching unions are anything but united and there is mass disillusionment with the DfE and all who sail in her.
So what can this college do for us?
Firstly we need to take a comparison with other professions. All of the major ones have some kind of professional body, not a union, not a talking shop, but a body that is truly representative of the trade. Here is a current list (yes it is from Wikipedia, but it is late on a Sunday night and it serves the purpose). The Royal College of Nursing is probably the closest example to what we are trying to achieve. It is headed by a nurse, made up of nurses as members, and serves to protect the interests of nurses. So what does it actually do? Well, from the RCN website:
The RCN is a membership organisation of more than 435,000 registered nurses, midwives, health care assistants and nursing students. We are both a professional body, carrying out work on nursing standards, education and practice, and a trade union.
Our members work in a range of health care specialties and settings in the NHS and independent sectors. We also have members based overseas, and members who are retired. Around 35,000 nursing students are members.
We are governed by an elected Council of 31 members, chaired by Michael Brown, who delegate the running and management of the organisation to our Chief Executive & General Secretary, Janet Davies. Our President, Cecilia Anim, is a member of RCN Council.
We are a Royal Charter body registered with the Privy Council and, because trade unionism is not our sole activity, we are on a special register of trade unions which means our rules differ slightly to other trade unions.
So they manage to be a trade union yet not a trade union, representing ALL of their members and managing the needs of their profession.
The College of Teaching should be no different. A single professional body, representing the cause of ALL teaching staff in the UK can only be a good thing. Where they got it wrong before was asking the profession to stump up the starting money. Now though we seem to have a dichotomy whereby some educators question the existence of the college because of the route it is funded by. Probably the same people who thought crowdfunding was a crude method.
What is important in the debate is that the College of Teaching exists now. The future direction of the body lies in the membership – teachers. The fact that all of the current trustees are educators, the new CEO is a headteacher and they are looking for another (up to) 8 trustees from the world of schools suggests that it is being led from the ground up. It is now up to us all to make it a success rather than look for ways of dragging it down…