Science teachers are in the vanguard of gaining professional recognition linked to M-level standards. Derek Bell explains.

Teaching is a demanding and complex process which requires skills, knowledge and understanding in not only one or more subject disciplines but also in pedagogy and learning. It is the bringing together of these elements to develop practice that is the essence of professional expertise, and which should be recognised and valued. It is against this background that the Association for Science Education (ASE) began working more than five years ago on its application for a Royal Charter. For the past three it has been working in close partnership with the Science Council to create a mechanism that celebrates high quality science teachers and science education professionals through the award of a chartered designation: Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach).

The introduction of CSciTeach provides, for the first time ever, the opportunity for individual teachers working in a wide range of settings, to gain an award which accredits and values their all-round expertise in science education and, importantly, their commitment to updating the knowledge, skills and understanding that are required to continually develop their practice.

CSciTeach is a true chartered designation, awarded under powers incorporated in a Royal Charter granted by the Privy Council in October 2004. As a licensed body of the Science Council and under the terms of its own Royal Charter, ASE is empowered to award CSciTeach to individuals who demonstrate that they meet the requirements for the designation. By providing evidence through a combination of recognised qualifications, acknowledged achievements and other supporting material, CSciTeach can be awarded to individuals who:

  • meet the qualifying educational standard of M-level qualification or equivalent in pedagogy/education together with an honours-level qualification in which there is a minimum of 50% course content in science
  • have minimum of four years teaching experience
  • have engaged in, and reflected on, appropriate professional development during the qualifying period
  • work with colleagues and others in developing science education
  • demonstrate their commitment to continually update their professional competence
  • work within the professional code of conduct for CSciTeach
  • provide evidence of their professional expertise in relation to professional knowledge and understanding, professional practice and professional attributes.

The first five awards of CSciTeach were granted in October 2006 to individuals from a range of backgrounds including primary, secondary, higher education and advisory staff. All were very positive about the process and of the value of the award.

Quite rightly, the process is searching, but ASE has worked hard to make it manageable and ensure it provides recognition and evidence of a proactive approach to consistently worthwhile professional development. (Secondary head of science.)

Progression to Chartered Science Teacher with its … encouragement to development of skills through postgraduate training seems to be a natural next step in my career. (Primary teacher.)

I’m primary by teaching background and I don’t have an MEd. CSciTeach aims to recognise ‘M-levelness’ and my portfolio must have demonstrated that I have been working at the equivalent of M-level and demonstrating impact on learning commensurate with Chartered Status. I’d encourage others like me to apply. (LA adviser).

Further details and the application pack for CSciTeach can be obtained by visiting www.ase.org.uk

Dr Derek Bell is chief executive of the Association for Science Education.

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