College of Teaching moves closer to reality with funding announcement

The Claim Your College campaign has welcomed the announcement on 20 March 2015 by the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan and Schools Minister, David Laws, of 'no strings' financial support following its A world-class teaching profession consultation to help accelerate the start-up phase of a member-driven, independent and entirely voluntary College of Teaching.

This firm endorsement of the Claim Your College’s vision outlined in The profession’s new College of Teaching: A proposal for start-up comes in addition to philanthropic funding and support from The Mercers’ Charitable Foundation awarded recently.

The College of Teaching will be an independent, chartered membership organisation, governed by a board elected from the membership and founded by a group of teachers and supporters. Its purpose is to champion the status of teachers by sharing knowledge and supporting professional development to help learners succeed.

For an estimated membership fee of £70 per year, members will be provided with accreditation against valid, portable, respected, sector-led standards and a career pathway that informs access to high-quality professional development and learning and enables members to build a validated portfolio documenting professional impact.

The Claim Your College campaign welcomes the statement by the Secretary of State and the Minister that the funding will not compromise the independence of the College of Teaching and will be issued on a ‘fire and forget’ basis that will keep it free from government influence. The campaign has always been clear that 'no strings' funding was an absolute requirement of receiving government support. While the details of the final funding package need to be worked through, the coalition is pleased that this commitment is echoed clearly by the government.

The funding will allow Founding Trustees to develop the structures to enable teachers to invest in the growth of the new voluntary organisation through membership. The announcement is the latest step in a process that began in 2012 when a number of congruent initiatives attracted the support of a wide range of education stakeholders and cross-party political support.

The Claim Your College coalition was initiated last year by the existing College of Teachers, The Prince’s Teaching Institute, the Teacher Development Trust and the SSAT in collaboration with practising teachers and school leaders.

The profession’s new College of Teaching proposal submitted by the coalition presents a framework - based on years of consultation and engagement - for Founding Trustees to consider and consult upon. The profession's hands are not tied by this proposal and, as a membership organisation, the College of Teaching will ultimately be funded by its members.

Gareth Alcott, Assistant Head Teacher at Kings Alfred’s Academy in Oxfordshire and a Claim your College supporter, said:

'[This] announcement marks a major milestone. The Claim Your College coalition is deeply encouraged by the government’s evident commitment to an independent professional body, led by teachers.

'The creation of a College of Teaching is a unique opportunity for teachers to help create a vision for the profession and demonstrate that professional autonomy is justified and long overdue. If teachers want to finally rid themselves of the policy shackles that have for too long bound our profession’s development, it is crucial that we take control of the destiny of the College of Teaching so we can reclaim our professionalism. This is our chance - we must take it!'

Angela McFarlane, Chief Executive of the College of Teachers, said:

'We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the profession from within to establish a clear vision that will help attract, develop and retain skilled teachers. We welcome the government’s support for our work and we have always been clear that we could only accept a no-strings grant. While we need to work through the detail, we are very encouraged by this announcement.

'The great work that exists in the profession and teachers’ dedication deserves to be recognised and championed through a College of Teaching. We are now one step closer to making this vision a reality. Ultimately, it will be for the membership to decide what the College of Teaching will do for them but the potential is vast.'

The Claim Your College coalition consists of a wide range of over 400 organisations and individuals from across the education sector including subject associations, schools, practising teachers, school improvement and leadership organisations and third sector organisations, supported by unions.

The College of Teaching is not yet open for membership but those interested can sign up to support by visiting the Claim Your College website or by following @CollOfTeaching #CollegeOfTeaching #ClaimYourCollege.