Putting the ‘Profession’ into teaching

PUBLISHED: 11:00 04 November 2018

Stephen Munday, chief executive of The Cam Academy Trust and executive principal of Comberton Village College

Stephen Munday, chief executive of The Cam Academy Trust and executive principal of Comberton Village College

STUART COLLINS +44(0)7801 019024

Cam Academy Trust chief executive Stephen Munday talks about his new role representing the teaching profession.

Is teaching a profession? Many might suggest that is a strange question to ask. It is probably seen as so obviously a profession by many that it is a question not worthy of asking. Teachers are clearly ‘professionals’ so why even mention this? The reason to ask is when one reflects on what generally defines a ‘profession’.

One of the standard features of any profession in our society is that it has a clearly defined and accepted professional body. Looking at the medical profession, there is absolute clarity about the professional body (‘college’) that represents different specialisms within that profession. Similar bodies can also be identified for other professions.

This is where the teaching ‘profession’ does not quite so obviously look like a profession. It does not possess a single and universally accepted professional body. That it does not is, on reflection, strange, even an anomaly. The good news for our ‘profession’ is that moves are afoot to do something about this.

The Chartered College of Teaching has been recently established in this country. Its clear aim is to become the acknowledged single professional body for the teaching profession.

In no way at all is this any version of an attempt to usurp current teacher unions. Unions are vital for teachers in terms of representing their interests in terms of pay and conditions and protection for a range of employment-related matters.

The chartered college does not seek to impinge upon these areas. Rather, it seeks to clarify and ultimately oversee the standards for the teaching profession and to clarify and to foster effective professional development for all teachers.

It will look at evidence about what works in teaching and in providing great education for young people and will seek to represent the profession in this, including in dialogue with and recommendations made to the government. If it succeeds, the chartered college will clearly confirm the definition of teaching as a profession.

All of this came into sharp focus recently on the day of the chartered college’s AGM at Westminster School in London. It was the day on which I was privileged to be inaugurated as the first president of the Chartered College of Teaching.

Travelling to the event during the morning, I listened to the news headlines reporting that the Royal College of GPs had announced that it was to proceed with further trials with GPs seeing groups of 15 patients at a time. This followed previous trials and evidence that it represented effective use of GPs’ time. As I then suggested at the chartered college’s AGM, that was precisely the point. That is what we want to seek to be all about.

We want a day when the Chartered College of Teaching announces that, following research and clear evidence, teachers will now be pursuing a particular way of doing things because it works well.

We will then simply get on and do it. The really good news is that if we achieve this, education for all young people in our country will become as good as it can be.

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