The Education Select Committee seem to like the idea of The College of Teachers, but appear undecided about the best way to bring such an organisation about.
The fact that the organisation already exists, set up (in exactly the way the Select Committee envisages) by Royal Charter, and ran at the will of its membership, hasn’t stopped them wanting to dismantle it in order to rebuild it.
The model they’re looking at is that of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England & Wales) – basically a Super-Union, in which members pay subs to the one body and are not part of another union. Well the profession could bring that about easily enough right now, by merging the unions that represent it.
But a college of teachers ought to be available for the support and professional development of all those who are qualified as teachers: teachers should automatically and freely become fellows of the institute on gaining their teacher qualification. This would mean that everyone involved in teaching would have access to the college’s information, advice and professional development courses, and also have a say in how the college (and education) moves forward – the whole constituency voicing their will rather than a percentage of paid-up members. This is crucially important, I think.
Not all teachers enjoy a good relationship with their school managers, or good working conditions, and occasionally things go wrong in the classroom. Sometimes the help of a union is needed. Perhaps a College of Teachers will change the scope and focus of the unions but, in my opinion, unions are necessary and must continue to offer their important services to teachers.