The Profession

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Some would argue that teaching in England no longer meets the criteria for being a profession due to a gradual erosion by successive governments:

  • Reforms led by Keneth Baker in the 1980s specified directed time (i.e. the number of hours a teacher had to work per year)
  • The National Curriculum removed much of the professional judgement about what to teach.
  • The strategies (Literacy and Numberacy) removed much of the professional judgement about how to teach - this was extended with the focus on teaching synthetic phonics
  • There has been a gradual reduction in the extent to which Initial Teacher Education focusses on underpinning philosophy of education or learning theory (in order to make room for technical instruction about how to deliver 'the strategies' and synthetic phonics. This is reflected in the shift from Initial Teacher Education to Initial Teacher Training.
  • There is no requirement for teachers to engage in professional updating
  • There is no requirement for re-accreditation or to demonstrate that you kept pace with developments in your discipline or pedagogy
  • There is no independent professional association for teachers

It is hard to see how teaching (in England) maps on to any of the criteria one would normally expect for a profession:

  • a distinct professional body,
  • expectations about keeping up to date, often re-credentialing every N years
  • a knowledge base that they own (as experts)
  • no set hours
  • [...]

Recently the Prince's Teaching Institute hosted a workshop to discuss the formation of a College of Teaching - the report of that workshop is informative.