Since the Standard for Chartered Teacher was published in December 2002, Scotland has produced almost 400 Chartered Teachers. A further 4,000 teachers are currently working towards the standard, which they must fund themselves. And while there is no doubt that it is hard work, time-consuming and challenging, overall teachers’ comments are highly positive. They claim they feel renewed and regenerated in their enthusiasm for teaching. They feel inspired and motivated having reflected on their practice.
The aim of the standard was ‘to provide the best, experienced teachers with opportunities to remain in teaching, to embrace new challenges, improve their skills and practice and be rewarded accordingly.’
The McCrone Agreement, reached between teaching bodies and the Scottish Executive in 2001 following the McCrone Report, laid the foundations for Chartered Teacher in Scotland and suggested that this status, with its enhanced salary (currently a £7,000 per year increase), would motivate excellent teachers to stay in the classroom. Up until then, teachers who wished to enhance their career and their salary had no option but to seek advancement within management, and consequently reduced their teaching time.
In the words of the agreement the idea was: ‘to encourage teachers to focus on the enhancement of teaching and learning and separate the concepts of teaching from those of administration and management’
(A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century Scottish Executive 2001).
There are two routes to becoming a Chartered Teacher, open to teachers who have reached the top of their pay scale. One is the programme route where a teacher completes a 12-module Master’s programme with one of the approved higher education providers. The alternative is for a teacher to submit a claim for accreditation of previous experience and learning to the General Teaching Council for Scotland to demonstrate that he/she meets the Standard for Chartered Teacher.
In Scotland it is clear these teachers are investigating their own practice; they are making explicit links between theory/ research, policy and practice and crucially evidencing how this impacts on teachers and learners.
The following are comments from teachers who are at various stages of their journey towards Chartered Teacher status at Glasgow University:
‘The programme provided me with a framework to explore the latest ideas and cutting edge research in education. It has also encouraged me to become involved in action research; to take risks and to explore new ways to foster a learning community’.
‘My first year of study has changed the way that I view the job and has created a space for me to reflect on what it means to be a teacher.’
‘Chartered Teacher is, I believe, one of the most exciting developments in the profession as it provides classroom teachers with the opportunity to shine. The recognition that what happens in the classroom is at the head of education restores the self-esteem and status of the dedicated classroom practitioner’.
And from Edinburgh and Strathclyde Universities:
‘Doing Chartered Teacher has changed my practice – I’ll never be the same again! I feel so motivated… and this is only the beginning.’
‘I have gained much confidence and feel very motivated and enthusiastic about my work.’
‘My understanding of how pupils learn is growing.’
These teachers testify to the success of the Chartered Teacher programme. Many of them are now using their enhanced knowledge and practice in their schools and are becoming catalysts in transformational change within their schools.
Case study: Doing the Chartered Teachers Standard
Doing my Chartered Teachers Standard has given me new insight and deeper understanding into teaching. For instance, the reflective diary that you are encouraged to keep is an excellent tool. Now when I see something in class or there is an incident that makes me think, I note it in my diary. This encourages me to reflect on my practice in class, in action, but then also to reflect later on the action I’ve taken and what I could have done. After 22 years teaching I’m now doing new things in school.
I began doing the six-year programme four years ago, just after a temporary post I’d held as a senior teacher came to an end and the McCrone changes to staffing structures were being implemented. I had less responsibility in school, so had the time to develop my teaching. I chose the modular route as accreditation would have meant just as much work but over a shorter period of time, and I thought working full-time and with a young family it would be better to go for the less intensive route.
I looked around at all the providers but opted for the online approach with the University of Paisley, as my wife works shifts and I needed flexibility. This meant I didn’t have to leave the house on a dark winter’s night. But it is still a demanding programme. Each module takes well in excess of 150 hours, and often I find myself working into the small hours or during holidays. You do have to make sacrifices when doing something like this and I have found it is often sleep. But it has made me a more confident teacher, prompting me to look for ways to refresh my practice. It has made me think about varying my own presentation; using different facial expressions, tone of voice, what body language I use, how I engage with the pupils. I’ve also tried to find ways to make classes more fun. I’ve looked for new ways to teach, including introducing lectures with PowerPoint presentations and I put together a website with revision tips.
It is making an impact. I recently did an analysis across four classes, comparing them to the previous year, and it suggested results are improving.
Later this year I am going to do a talk on the Chartered Teacher programme for my local authority, to teachers interested in the programme. I did a similar one for them in November 2005.