Tag Archives: College of Teaching

Sunbucks, Heimekem and the College of Teaching

I enjoy half term. It’s a time to relax and treat myself to some of the guilty pleasures I often don’t have time for during term time. It’s nice to enjoy a frothy latte from my favourite coffee shop, Sunbucks…

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And I do like a beer or two. There’s nothing like the sound of a cold can of Heimekem opening…

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And if I get the chance, I kick back and play on my PolyStation games console…

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Of course, these products are all Chinese so aren’t actually available in this country. But these sorts of products are ubiquitous in China. In fact, this liberal attitude to brand imitation means that, “on average, 20 percent of all consumer products in the Chinese market are counterfeit“.

This copycat method seems a very easy route to market in places where regulations aren’t particularly stringent. But they piggyback on a brand that’s worked hard to establish itself and offer an inferior product in its place.

Such practice is very difficult in this country, due to market regulations which rightly protect businesses and brands. But it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop businesses seeing the success of others and entering the same market to compete with them. This can actually make for a healthy marketplace.

But should the same be said for teacher-led organisations aimed at improving research literacy in education? How many of these do we need?

On 18th March 2013, Tom Bennett had a Twitter exchange with Ben Goldacre, decrying the relationship between research and practice in schools. Goldacre had a simple response – do something about it yourself, Tom:

Within 6 months, Tom Bennett, along with Hélene Galdin-O’Shea  had put together a conference. Held on 7th September 2013, researchED was an event that aimed to bridge research and practice in the profession. Since then, Tom and Hélène have put together increasingly popular national conferences each year, plus regional conferences, and subject- and sector-specific conferences. And, what’s more, they’ve taken taken researchED to an international audience, hosting conferences in New York, Sydney, Gothenburg and Washington, with plans to take it elsewhere already well underway. They have established these relationships with international researchers and educators, whilst continuing to focus on there core activity of bridging research and practice in the UK education sector.

So it was a surprise when I read yesterday that the College of Teaching’s “core activity” will be to do this. To do exactly what researchED is doing.

A few things strike me about this.

Firstly, the College of Teaching has been years in the making. The people involved in the project are always at pains to emphasise the efforts of the many professionals it has taken over the past few years to get to where it is today. There have been multiple consultations, meetings and focus groups. There have been iterations and reiterations of forms of leadership, from Trustees to Chairs to a CEO. There is a pledge of £5 million on the table from the DfE to help fund this, after an attempt to crowdsource funding from the profession failed. There is a website that has been “under construction” for as long as I can remember. It has taken years and huge numbers of people for the College of Teaching to get to where it is today, and we are now told they are merely trying to copy a model that already exists. A model that was set up by Tom and Hélène and a handful of volunteers in just a few months. A truly teacher-led model.

This strikes me as following the model seen in China: see what others have done successfully and just copy that. But is this fair on researchED, given that the College of Teaching have DfE backing and up to £5 million in funding? Is this similar to Tesco being able to shut down the local butcher?

Indeed, if this is what the College of Teaching is offering, why doesn’t the DfE hand the £5 million to researchED instead? It is already established in the area that the College of Teaching is trying to establish itself in.

Secondly, is this what we need the College of Teaching to be? What about, as Michael Merrick suggested here, someone to stand up for teachers and to protect them from workload issues and to improve their working lives? I’m pretty sure that is how many see the College of Teaching. They don’t need another researchED. They already have one of those.

At the moment, it seems like the College of Teaching is an organisation trying to decide what it should be. It’s an organisation in search of a purpose. Which is an odd thing. Surely a government-funded organisation should be set up because it fulfils a need? This is an organisation that has more needs than the profession whose needs it should be fulfilling. It needs to know what it is for. It needs teachers to back it. It needs money to keep it going. It needs membership numbers to sustain it. It needs to copy and cash in on researchED’s success.

It needs to justify itself. This latest announcement that its “core activity will be to bridge research and practice” really doesn’t give it the justification it seeks.

Anyone, it’s still half term. Time to have a break, have a Kicker.

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The College of Teaching: a Claim Your Own Adventure story

As an English teacher, I love second-hand bookshops and I can often be found nosing around the children’s books sections for long lost classics from my own childhood.

I used to be an avid reader of the Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was younger, so I was amazed to find this little beauty – from the lesser known Claim Your Own Adventure imprint –  in a charity bookshop recently, and I managed to pick it up for just a few pence.

I’ve scanned in a few of the pages so that you can follow and enjoy one of the possible story arcs of this particular adventure.

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Don’t you hate it when a fictional story stretches the boundaries of believability? Such a silly ending too – they take a real leap into fantasy with that one. I hope the other endings are better than this one.

Great chain of being in education

The following is copied and pasted directly from Wikipedia:

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Great chain of being in education


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The great chain of being in education is a strict, hierarchical structure of all matter and life in the education sector, believed to have been decreed by the Secretary of State for Education. The chain starts from the Secretary of State and progresses downward to the HMCI, HMIs, LEAs, CEOs of MATs, executive headteachers, headteachers, SLT members, middle leaders, and right down to teachers and other minerals.

The great chain of being (Latinscala naturae educatio, literally “ladder/stair-way of nature in education”) is a concept derived from PlatoAristotlePlotinus, and Proclus.

Divisions [edit]


The chain of being is composed of a great number of hierarchical links, from the most basic and foundational elements (classroom teachers) up through the very highest perfection, in other words, Secretary of State for Education.

The Secretary of State sits at the top of the chain, and beneath them sit the HMCI, both existing wholly in spirit form. Earthly flesh is fallible and ever-changing, mutable, as can be noted by teacher retention figures. Spirit, however, is unchanging and permanent. This sense of permanence is crucial to understanding this conception of reality. It is generally impossible for an object in the hierarchy to have a voice that is heard by, or above, those higher up the chain.

In the natural order, teachers are at the bottom of the chain; they possess only the attribute of existence. Each link succeeding upward contains the positive attributes of the previous link and adds at least one other. Teachers possess only existence; the next link up is middle leaders who possess some power and existence. Elements further up the chain add more power still, as well as a more amplified voice in the education debate.

Natural science [edit]


Aristotle [edit]

The basic idea of a ranking of the education system’s organisms goes back to Aristotle.  He classified education’s elements in relation to a linear “Ladder of Life”, placing them according to complexity of structure and function so that higher organisms showed greater power, autonomy and trust.

Aristotle’s concept of higher and lower organisms in education was taken up by natural philosophers during the Scholastic period to form the basis of the Scala Naturae Educatio. The scala allowed for an ordering of beings, thus forming a basis for classification where each kind of leader, teacher and mineral could be slotted into place. In medieval times, the great chain was seen as a God-given ordering: Secretary of State at the top, teachers at the bottom, every grade of creature in its place.

Scala natural educatio and the proposed College of Teaching  [edit]

In May 2012, a cross-party education committee gave impetus to the idea of a new “member-driven” Royal College of Teaching. A consultation was launched in December 2014, after the Secretary of State for Education expressed their support for the college. The consultation report stated that:

“It will be led by teachers, enabling the teaching profession to take responsibility for its professional destiny, set its own aspirational standards and help teachers to challenge themselves to be ever better for those they serve.”

A website was launched too, stating that:

“The College of Teaching is an independent, evidence-led, member-driven body run by teachers for teachers in order to best meet the needs of learners.”

The idea of classroom teachers running their own college, however, is in direct contravention of the great chain of being in education, and despite the claims of the promotional materials and consultation, it was considered blasphemous for the college to put a classroom teacher in charge of its operation. As ever, the great chain of education being and the natural order took over and a CEO was appointed from higher up the chain. It was considered that, as this CEO already has power and a voice in education, it was probably best to amplify that, rather than allow a classroom teacher to speak for their profession. Ultimately, it was considered too much to ask.

See also  [edit]

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the College of Teaching

Arthur lay in the mud and squelched at Mr Prosser of the College of Teaching.

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to accept it,” said Mr Prosser gripping his fur hat and rolling it round the top of his head, “this College of Teaching has got to be built and it’s going to be built!”

“You haven’t had much support from teachers yet,” said Arthur, “why’s it going to be built?”

Mr Prosser shook his finger at him for a bit, then stopped and put it away again.

“What do you mean, why’s it got to be built?” he said. “It’s a College of Teaching. You’ve got to build a College of Teaching.”  He shifted his weight from foot to foot, but it was equally uncomfortable on each.

After a moment, he said: “You were quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the appropriate time you know.”

“Appropriate time?” hooted Arthur. “Appropriate time? The first I knew about it was when my membership form arrived at my school. I asked if I had to join and was told it was in my ‘best interests’. He didn’t tell me I had to of course. Oh no. But the suggestion was that if I didn’t, it would be bad for me.”

“But Mr Dent, we’ve had consultation meetings for months – we’ve invited all teachers to attend them.”

“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight online to find one of these meetings. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to make them accessible to teachers had you? I mean like actually holding them on a day when they can attend or anything.”

“But we had a public meeting to discuss membership on May 4th 2016…”

“A public meeting? I had to go down to the cellar to find it.”

“That’s where we house our public-facing department.”

“With a torch.”

“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the meeting didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”

“But you still found it?”

“Yes, but full-time classroom teachers didn’t. You know – the people you keep saying that this College of Teaching is for. They didn’t go because you held that meeting on a school day.”

“In the afternoon! It was from 2pm until 5pm. Teachers could have come after school and caught the end…”

“Teachers don’t finish work at 3pm! You should probably know that. Besides, you held it at the beginning of May during the week leading up to the SATs, so most Primary teachers were busy. It’s probably the busiest and most stressful time of the year for Primary teachers.”

“But there are more Secondary teachers who could have…”

“The beginning of May is also the start of the GCSE exams. Secondary teachers were also far too busy to attend. You would have thought an organisation that claims to be in the interests of teachers would be well aware of this.”

“Teachers could have taken an afternoon off for it.”

“No teacher is taking an afternoon off at the beginning of May. In fact, if you wanted to hold a meeting that perfectly excluded the majority of teachers in the UK, holding it during school hours on a school day at the beginning of May is probably the most precise moment you could hold it. Which is why these meetings are full of educationalists, consultants and people who stand to profit if they can get a wedge of the College of Teaching pie.”

A cloud passed overhead. It cast a shadow over Arthur Dent as he lay propped up on his elbow. Mr Prosser frowned. “And this is why you need a College of Teaching…” he said.

“Oh shut up,” said Arthur Dent. “Shut up and go away, and take your bloody College with you. You haven’t got a leg to stand on and you know it.”

Mr Prosser’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times while his mind was for a moment filled with inexplicable but terribly attractive visions of Arthur Dent sobbing his way through a 24-hour marathon of Brain Gym activities. Mr Prosser was often bothered with visions like these and they made him feel very nervous. He stuttered for a moment and then pulled himself together.

“Mr Dent,” he said.

“Hello? Yes?” said Arthur.

“Some factual information for you. Have you any idea how much damage the College of Teaching would suffer if you teachers didn’t support it.”

“How much?” said Arthur.

“None at all,” said Mr Prosser, “We’ll just go ahead with our plans anyway.”