Should I renew my membership of the Chartered College of Teaching?


Like many others that I mix with online and offline,  I am already an active member of a subject association and a member of many other education networks. I like to think that I’m fairly well informed about key issues in education.

Through the Association of Science Education I get subject-specific advice, access to regional and national CPD conferences at reduced rates, I get access to a network of science teachers, I get my Chartered Science Teacher status, I get two science-related magazines and I even get my professional insurance.  This is my benchmark of a professional organisation.

When I joined the Chartered College last year I saw it as taking a punt. I didn’t know what I was going to get but it was only £29 for me to join, so I signed up and became a founding member.

Time flies and a year later I find myself being asked to renew (although the price has crept up to £45, 65% more than I paid last time). I reflected on how much I’ve used my membership (it’s why I’m still a member of the National Trust, I visit their properties and car parks enough to justify the membership fee).

So how have I gained (or not) personally by being a member of the Chartered College?

  • I have received two (?) journals over the last twelve months
  • I’ve received a lapel badge and a notepad with the Chartered College logo on.
  • I once downloaded some of the summary materials from the University of Bristol (although this isn’t listed as a membership benefit any longer)
  • I’ve twice accessed the research database, once to write a blog post and once to research a presentation proposal.
  • I didn’t go to the annual conference – I couldn’t justify the cost plus the train ticket (more than the conference fee) to attend
  • I am already a Chartered Teacher at a fraction of the cost – I don’t see the recognition through the Science Council as being any less meaningful
  • I have only just discovered my ex-MAT is on the list of CCT founding networks…

Since I joined last time, my career path has taken a sudden and unexpected detour from the chalk face and although I’ve got more time to make use of the benefits they still haven’t been that useful. I love the Chartered College and all it stands for but in times when money is getting increasingly tighter for all in the profession, I join others in having to consider this purchase carefully before I make it.

Is your membership up for renewal? What decision have you made? How did you make your decision? Should I stay or should I go?

Image ©ICMA Photos

The rise of the identikit school is not good for learners with SEND


It had been a long time since I visited the city where I went to university. In my memories the streets were vibrant and I remembered lots of small independent shops where everyone skipped around smiling (ok so I may have exaggerated this last one…)

I recently got the opportunity to revisit (after over fifteen years) and expected things to be just as they had been in my memories. Of course, my rose-tinted glasses now have ordinary glass in and I saw things how they are at present. It’s a sad reflection on our society that one city centre looks much like another, with most of the shops belonging to large chains and the only differences between towns and cities is how the same shops are arranged.

The same thing is happening to our schools and the government is embracing it as a positive thing. With the expansion of local multi-academy trusts (MATs) the same trustees/directors/governors may control most of the schools in a given area, and depending on the scheme of delegation, the schools could end up being extremely similar

On first appearances this may seem extremely positive with similar branding, sharing of good practice and a similar ethos. Naturally, these similarities extend to the treatment of students with special needs and schools tend to apply the same policies that have ‘worked’ elsewhere. For us, that meant a constant stream of referrals coming from schools that wanted rid of their special needs students. It got to the point where we could read the referral and guess the academy chain the student had attended previously.

With the schools in a given area being under the control of a relatively small number of MATs, and with the government’s desire to see the growth and expansion of existing MATs, there is less and less room for individuality between local schools.

Where does this leave learners with special needs who don’t fit the mould? I’m sure many of these schools would like to brand themselves as inclusive but they are unable and unwilling to cater for all but the least severe of needs.  The future of inclusion could be at risk and start to take a very different direction over the coming years and the government and local authorities seem powerless to do anything about it.

Have you seen similar in your school (mainstream or special)? Do you worry about the future of inclusion? Leave a comment below.

 

Image © Keith Hall

An open letter to the ASE – seven years later

Nearly seven years ago I wrote an open letter to the ASE which you can read here.  I complained that the ASE wasn’t listening to members and wasn’t delivering what science teachers wanted. I had many responses, some public which you can read in the comments and some private which you can’t! The resounding response was for me to become involved with the ASE and help steer it in the right direction.

So have I done since?

  • I am now the regional secretary for the East Midlands and help organise CPD events for members (and non-members) in our region. These are linked to hot-topics or changes to the curriculum which members are asking for
  • I’ve been involved more with the ASE at a national level. I’ve been a past member of their assembly (now called education group) and also a member of the publications committee. I’m currently a member of the 11-19 committee which meets three times a year and discusses topics like SEN, the new GCSEs and science teacher retention.
  • I’ve attended several annual conferences and this year I’ve presented at the ASE conference for the first time (on behalf of the 11-19 committee).  I’ve joined the organising committee for the annual conference next year which will be held at Birmingham University.
  • I’ve submitted articles for EiS, SSR and the ASE website, some of which have appeared in print.

Of course, the ASE hasn’t rested on its laurels over the last seven years:

  • The structure of the ASE has been streamlined to make it more responsive to members and secure its future
  • A new CEO took the reins and the ASE has a much higher profile, with the ASE appearing on the national news several times and communicating better with its members through social media (including launching the excellent #ASEchat)
  • The ASE has successfully promoted professional registration with more and more members signing up (I was awarded Chartered Science Teacher status in 2011)
  • The ASE has produced some excellent materials to support science teachers such as the excellent language of maths in science and the language of measurement.
  • We’ve had some excellent Presidents and Chairs of the ASE in the last seven years, with another excellent candidate waiting in the wings as Chair-Elect. These have helped to further strengthen the ASE and refocus it on its core purpose of improving the quality of science education for all
  • A new website is due to launch within the next two months

To some extent, the people who responded to my original post were right.  The more involved you become, the more you stand to get out of the ASE. However, there are still many science teachers who are not members and the challenge is to communicate the benefits of membership to those educators. With the loss of local authority influence and the rise of the multi-academy trust, it is getting harder and harder to reach individual science departments and therefore individual teachers.

This slideshow highlights some of the benefits of membership, if you aren’t a member have a look at what you are missing:

Are you a member of the ASE? What do you value about your membership? If you aren’t a member what is it that stops you signing up?