covereng.jpg (10339 bytes)
chair.jpg (11036 bytes) New Regulatory Body for Teachers in England Faces Familiar Issues

English education system also provides strong support for beginning teachers.

Margaret_Wilson.jpg (14205 bytes) By Margaret Wilson

I spent two days of a recent visit to England on a "businessman's holiday." Following a relaxed week in the gardens and fishing ports of Devon, I went up to the big smoke, London, to visit the Department of Education and Training, the Teacher Training Agency and our new sister regulatory body, the General Teaching Council for England.

The General Teaching Council (GTC) is in its startup phase. The election of the Council had been completed when I was there, but the results were not yet announced. With well over 400,000 members, it will have a significant impact on policy development in teaching in England. Despite the difference in size, many of the issues facing the new Chief Executive Officer, Carol Adams, are identical to those our College faced recently.

First, how to find the teachers. Next, the transfer of the qualifications file and the question of its accuracy. Then committees, processes, policies - all to be developed from scratch. Some of our work will be useful as a base for further development to suit their needs and I have promised to send samples of our processes to help jump start some of the work that must be done.

One of the things that strikes me as curious in the design of the GTC for England is that it does not have the authority to accredit teacher training institutions. This power still rests with an organization called the Teacher Training Agency (TTA).

The TTA not only accredits the teacher training institutions but also funds them. One of the consequences of an "unsuccessful" accreditation round may be a cut in funding. Another may be, and has been, no funding and closure.

The TTA is also responsible for teacher recruitment in the broad sense. For the upcoming school year, candidates in one-year post-degree programs in teacher training institutions may apply for a grant of 13,000.

England has reintroduced an induction period prior to permanent certification as a teacher. During the induction period, the beginning teacher has a reduced timetable. The school is given a grant to subsidize the cost of assigning an experienced teacher to mentor and to provide for ongoing education courses for the beginning teacher. The head teacher (principal) is responsible for reporting successful completion of induction. The rate of pay for beginning teachers is not reduced in this scheme.

England has also introduced multiple pay ranges. The first pay range applies to teachers with seven to nine years experience. They may then apply for a Threshold Assessment conducted by both the head teacher and an external assessor. A successful assessment entitles the teacher to a 2,000 pay increase and access to an upper pay range.

Teachers will be assessed on knowledge and understanding of the teaching of their subjects, planning of curriculum delivery, attention to the needs of individual students, use of a variety of teaching methods and management of their classrooms. They must also demonstrate that their pupils are progressing as a result of their teaching. Further expectations are that teachers use the outcomes of their own professional development to improve their teaching and pupils' learning and that they make an active contribution to the school in general. The stated aim is that most teachers will achieve the second salary range.

There was much more than this that was interesting in a country in which the detail of education policy is widely reported and debated on a daily basis and in which the ferment is even more intense than it is here. I'll return in a future column to the teacher recruitment issue and teacher morale.