Tag Archives: BCS

The College of Teaching – Thoughts from an Educationalist

I’ve never been one for being shy when I have had an opinion. This is a good and a bad thing. Because of my professional contacts and friendships, the areas where I have spoken out and some of the targets I have openly set people within the education sector some might be mistaken that I am a teacher.

I am not. I openly say that I am an Education Technologist. I’ve been a qualified coach (Judo, Ju-jitsu), a validated instructor and examiner for IT courses (aimed at IT Support staff and validated by the awarding body to instruct other instructors and examiners), a mentor dealing with the pastoral care of prisoners (soldiers) and a Play Leader (mainly specialising in working with children with special needs). I say this in the tone of talking about one of my favourite subjects (me!) and only so that my background and position is clear to those that may not know me that well.

This is related to the work by Claimyourcollege.org.uk, who have now published the proposal for start-up support for the College of Teaching.

The reaction from the teaching profession has been mixed.

Many are repeating the article from The Guardian, possibly as a show of support.

Andrew Old’s reaction is quite detailed and it seems a good number of folk agree about the proposal not being a good thing.

There are still those questioning political motives (3 main parties all *support* the idea), that it is just reinventing the wheel (isn’t there a National College of Teaching and Leadership?), that it has no real teeth or that it will fall short of membership targets.

For me, as an educationalist, it is a good proposal.

At the heart of it there is the recognition that the core of membership *has* to be practicing teachers, that this is recognised as a Chartered Status and that it has a collected approach to Professional Standards and Development.

The added bonus is that there is recognition that others also work in education. The idea of Chartered Teaching Assistant and Chartered Examination Officer sound good to me on paper, but I know they will be a long time in coming (if ever) and will be fought tooth and nail. As a start though, as soon as Chartered Teacher is in place I would expect professional recognition of any equivalent Chartered Status.

Why is this a passion for me? Simply put, it will help break down the two-tier mentality in many schools. There are many other organisations that have Royal Charters, and for IT Professionals working in education the most common one would be BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT Professionals. The days of getting chartered status and it being a lifelong right are gone with BCS. You have it for 3 years and have to be accredited again and again. Fail to adhere to the professional standards of BCS can see the status removed (and membership revoked) or simply the status is not renewed.

At this point I have to say the same should apply to Chartered Teacher status. Reapply after 3 years and prove you are worth it.

Some people will not like this idea as it attacks the comfort position that some teachers can get into, and the lack of unequivocally support from NASUWT makes me believe that this could be a problem down the line. But if people think about it for a minute … this helps to weed out those who have retired (more on this later), those who have left the classroom to become consultants, those working for commercial companies in sales/training/etc … and even SLT who have no timetable any more.

This is not too dissimilar to arguments against open membership to be honest, and a few folk have pointed out the gaps. There are those working with ITTs who deserve the same professional recognition, after all … they will be installing the standards in new teachers … and I think the proposal covers that well enough now.

What about those who are outside the classroom but have years of good practice and knowledge to bring? Looking at other bodies, that is why you have Fellows. Often a more academic slant, this can allow noted members to stay in a recognised position within the membership without stepping on purist toes, as well as giving those with Chartered status something to aim for.

The other side of the proposal is that it gets rid of the idea of needing a Master’s degree, of teachers with an already busy workload being forced into the typing hell of poorly thought out Action Research and standardises the CPD needed for recognised status in a world where political targets shift things about.

My recommendation for the varied folk who read my blog, follow me on Twitter or occasionally listen to my rants is to work with the current proposal, accept that this is a long term investment (so some existing teachers might never see the full benefit but those new or in the middle phase of their career should) and be proactive in your involvement.

Those who follow me who won’t get Chartered Status do not panic. If you feel that there is never going to be a chance of being recognised within the membership of the College, then aim for chartered status elsewhere. IT Professionals should now be pressing BCS to recognise the specialisms required to work in the education sector, and get BCS to press for equal recognition of Chartered Status between bodies.

Other than teachers then next Chartered Status I can see coming from the College of Teaching will be for School Business Manager. This is already a well recognised role, releasing senior and middle leaders from a lot of administration so they can focus on teaching and learning. It covers a wide range of specialisms and has significant levels of accountability. To do the job properly you *have* to understand schools though.

So, there you have my thoughts.

The proposals are workable, need to be viewed in the long term, have to have some measure of accountability for Chartered Status and has to include recognition for equivalent statuses (in my opinion).

You say Computing, I say ICT…

It was interesting to see some of the education twitterverse today. From elation and smugness with the reversal and changes to proposals around GCSEs, to frustration and annoyance about the opening of the consultation on the draft National Curriculum … and then you hit the screams of joy or unbelief after ICT is slapped for a rename to Computing.

Now, let’s get one thing straight. The delivery of ICT goes from the wonderfully creative and engaging to the inane box ticking … and there can be a place for box ticking actually, but not how some folk do it within education.

Poor teaching is poor teaching. The idea that an important element of working with computers, including deep changes to knowledge and skills, was needed to be put back in had very few people disagreeing.

There has been some frustration about how some of this has been managed though, and how the interests of some groups seem to have pushed others out … a little bit of politics and a bit of Politics really. The agendas of some groups have ended up with a consultation that has, at times, excluded others … and if we consider that Naace (The ICT Subject association) members that have been leading the way on this … then it should not surprise anyone when Naace members get annoyed. I know I am. I am also a member of the BCS and yet they have done little for recognising the career and progression of my profession, those working in IT in education. It is a shame when the agendas of some stamp all over others … and the really sad thing is that most of the folk involved in those groups are not doing it intentionally … they are fighting for the same goals, but things get twisted around, certain businesses have their say and you just get that sinking feeling that we will be having similar conversations in 5, 10 and 15 years.

I put out a series of tweets earlier to express my initial feelings and to try to pass a message to others.

The name change from ICT is part curriculum need, part branding / marketing / spin and part politics (at both Gov’t and interest group level)

Considering the amount of cross-over with some of the interest groups I have a feeling a number of friendships are getting strained

For those doing great things under the umbrella of ICT, keep going. The snobbery against it will disappear over time … and we will all win

If you do poor things under the umbrella of ICT then this is a wake up call … and we hope things improve

But a Plato those enthusing about Computing … please don’t deride those doing great things as ICT, or allow others to do so!

Politics is a fickle thing … you never know when those in power will turn against you.

I hope this sums everything up for you …

Play nicely, play fairly, share and don’t let others tell your friends that they are not good teachers / educators / techies when you know they are!

BETT – Mr Gove’s Speech

It was interesting to finally get to an opening keynote at BETT and it turns out to be Mr Gove, Secretary of State for Education. Having read a few newspaper articles over breakfast most of us knew the basics of what the speech was going to say, but we all know and appreciate that, short of publishing the whole speech in a newspaper, there will always be some element of selective editing … and some important bits can be missed.

I did video the whole speech and will probably do some selective clips in a later post to highlight certain points but the key things (for me) can be drawn out of the full text which is available on the DfE website, which also has a copy of the video.

Over the last few months we have seen a bit of softening from Mr Gove on some parts of technology and ICT. The initial lack of any comment or ideas on technology were disconcerting for many, and the rawness of the demise of Becta, coupled with the scaling back of LA involvement, had hit a nerve with many. Whatever the good reasons for such a rapid change, it was detrimentally viewed due to so many other issues it was causing. The political flags waved on all sides and some tended to forget a key fact … lack of information and unsure direction was having a detrimental effect on schools who were delaying adopting good use of technology often because they were waiting for the next hoop to jump through.

Well, the core of the speech helped solve some of that. Some of the hoops are going. The Programme of Study is going under consultation with a view to being scrapped by September 2012. No hanging around waiting for alternatives to be formulated, discussed, dissected, tested, implemented and reviewed … but a quick change to let schools get on with doing what they know best. There is still a requirement to teach ICT, but no prescription about what / how.

And for the schools who still need help and support? There are plenty of folk who can help with this, ranging NAACE to fellow schools, commercial suppliers through to consultants, and a number of special interest groups. Comments from others at the speech ranged from “About time, we have been giving examples of where it could be better for ages” through to “Oh yes, another chance for people to profit at the expense of schools!”

Of course, it is worth saying that some of what Michael Gove was saying raises even more questions. The repeated bashing on about the ICT curriculum being poorly taught to bored children seems to a little away from demonstrations I saw at the show, from what I saw at the TeachMeet, with what I see in local schools. I am not saying there are not times when it is boring and mundane, and is merely hoop jumping for tick box curricula … we all know that some courses and work can be done that way, but it doesn’t mean that it is *all* done that way … and the knocking of ICT by some to promote other agendas (including Computer Sciences) seems to have been jumped on by our political masters. Of course, we can argue that this would not be done without evidence and cause, but I worry about the good being thrown out with the bad. At least now, after the speech, I can hopefully say that those schools who are still doing good stuff with ICT will continue to do so.

But Computing … that is the next big thing. Lots of reports abound about how we are missing the skills for this and the various groups working on dealing with this are coming from different positions. Ian Livingstone spoke at the recent Microsoft Partners in Learning event about the role of computing and creativity (linked in with the games and creative industries), with STEM ambassadors stressing the link with science … and naturally you will come across many IT Professionals who will push computing / computer science with a greater understanding on the use and management of computers.

I am not saying that any of these are wrong or any is more right than others, but it does come across at times as a bit fractious and people are grabbing for control … sometimes losing some of the benefits of joined up work. Recent discussions on the Computing at Schools group have shown this too me … people annoyed at the perceptions about others possibly charging for access to a robust curriculum, in spite of this being something that Mr Gove was clearly promoting … buying in resources, expertise and structure …

And so we get back to the core of the Speech. Mr Gove says that Computing is important … because lots of notable people and some important reports say so. No direction will be given on exactly how this will turn out but references to work from BCS (actually from CAS, which BCS are helping to co-ordinate, but supported by Microsoft, Google and others), mention of NAACE and talk about commercial firms providing knowledge and expertise.

Nothing on Open Source, other than an oblique reference in a section heading … no real mention of what it means and even possibly mis-representing how open source products can be collaborated on with developmental forks and code being rolled back into a single project … in fact the opposite of what he says about things being in a single document. Nothing explicitly about examples of collaborative sharing. In fact … you could say that this opportunity to mention the Big Society seems to have been missed as well …

So where does this leave us? Or rather where does it leave IT Professionals working in schools?

If computing is going to have a larger role in schools then we have to make sure that schools have ready methods of allowing computer studies / computing / coding to take place. There have been a number of comments to me that teachers in some schools (thankfully a small number but still over 100 in the last 2 years) have experienced problems with their IT Support staff blocking changes. Yet I know of many schools where teachers and children code on a regular basis. When asked about this at the NAACE conference last year I had to explain that there is no standard way of saying to schools, “this is how you do it” … because there is no standard for IT facilities in schools … not even in those with managed services under BSF.

And after the speech we know that there will be a number of different ways of enabling the different options for computing to take place in schools … in fact it is an important part of the speech … no central prescription … schools choose what they think is best. So the only way it will work is if IT Support staff and companies become even more flexible. It means ensuring that you are actively talking with other staff in school now about what they are planning, it is all about instead of saying ‘no’ to something tying to explain what the issues are, what compromises can be made and making people aware of the legal requirements which you have to comply with no matter how important the educational needs are. It is about talking to other schools in the same position. It is about taking part in the planning of the curriculum as well.

One comment that has stuck with me, from Miles Berry (Senior Vice Chair of NAACE), was that IT Professionals in schools are in a pretty unique position to work with teaching staff. Their wide experience of technical expertise, planning, scripting and understanding of UI almost makes them perfect to help develop what happens with computing in schools …

So I look forward to the next 12 months and what it brings to IT Professionals in schools and the impact of Mr Gove’s speech. hopefully it also brings more professional recognition as well as fostering closer working between them and teaching staff.