I have been troubled by the number of NQTs leaving the teaching profession, with articles in the press about stress and mental health issues, workload and the breakdown of trust in the area of SEND.

Exclusions are high and tension within SEND provisions is causing distress to children and families. It’s hard to see a way out: increases in accountability measures has led to a system which often feels at breaking point.

In my first article for HWRK I quoted Dame Alison Peacock. I had watched her TedTalk but had never seen her speak in person. With hope in my heart, I went to see her deliver an address recently as part of the Oldham Learning Festival. I was not disappointed.

As she spoke, my synapses sizzled, connecting lots of ideas and concepts, my heart swelled. With this formidable and inspiring woman leading the way, how could the Chartered College fail?

It’s up to teachers to make it a success of course and that requires a commitment to the ideology behind the Chartered College.

What is the Chartered College?

There are three ways that the Chartered College of Teaching aims to help educators:

  • Education Research Access
  • Professional Recognition
  • Creating a community of Educators

‘We can’t have a teaching profession that is not a learning profession’

Currently, it is difficult for teachers to access academic research. Impact, the termly journal of The Chartered College, connects research to classroom practice, enabling teachers to critically discuss research and how it applies to practice.

The Chartered College wants to see teaching excellence celebrated and shared, with greater interaction within the academic sector, i.e. professors working in schools together with teachers, bringing new, effective ways of working to light. It aims to empower individual teachers via networks across the UK; so far there are more than 80.

Who is Dame Alison Peacock?

As a Head, she built a reputation for turning failing schools around. She is a bold visionary, buying an old bus to turn into a library and making a music garden out of junk. She is also known for her ‘Learning Without Limits’ research, which was turned into a book.

Together with nine other teachers, Alison took part in a research project for Cambridge University which explored effective approaches to teaching and learning beyond the confines of notions of ‘ability’. Three key principles underpinned all of their practice:

  • Trust
  • Co-agency (teacher/pupil)
  • Everyone (inclusion)

Learning without Limits

Dame Peacock has worked in High School, as 1-1 support and in Primary and declares, ‘children have the right to surprise us’. Yes, they do.

She talks powerfully about her time turning a failing school around. There was no extra money, just belief, hope and a commitment to making the curriculum ‘irresistible’. How was this achieved? By being open to opportunities; in one case, some old mammal skulls offered by a friend and in another with some ancient, filthy Victorian bottles bought at a jumble sale electrifying a Year 2 classroom, turning the learners instantly into archaeologists. Within three years, the school was outstanding.

What could things be like?

Dame Alison Peacock believes that amazing things can happen, if fixed thinking can be changed to a notion of ‘transformability’. Use research to try things out and don’t be afraid to innovate, this is where transformation happen. She is striving to create happy learning communities, with high standards, working together to produce a broad and balanced, ‘irresistible’ curriculum. The overriding message I hear is inclusion and empowerment of teachers.

Does teaching without limits appeal to you?

Membership of Chartered College @CharteredColl  is free for student teachers; alternatively £45 per year.

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