The tale of two colleges

I believe in the College of Teaching (COT).

To declare my position. I am a teacher. I not currently employed in a school. I may be again one day. I am a consultant. I work in and with charities I think the College is the right thing for the teaching profession and I pay credit to those who have got it this far. I think that mistakes have been made and that some concerns that have been raised are valid.  I believe in teachers and school leaders driving the education agenda and shaping practice of teaching. But I don’t think that they are the only ones who have a say. I am the parent of four children currently receiving the services of teachers.

I am also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

There has been much talk about the COT being the voice of the profession; leading the profession in the fight against evil policy makers and politicians (you know those democratically elected bods that people voted for); making education as evidence led as doctors (honestly – not as evidence led as you think; 5 different views on how to treat an asthmatic child from 4 doctors in a 2 month period based on same evidence) and generally curing all ills. But while all these are potential powerful aims of the College what will it actually do, for me (if I am allowed to join under any title). What will I get for signing away my soul/just signing a membership form* (*delete depending on current view).

CIPD has been the professional body for those who work in human resources for over 100 years and became a Chartered organisation 16 years ago.  It affords a status to HR professions that mirrors their value in organisations if not in popular culture.

The framework for professional membership demonstrates clear standards that can be met through qualifications or through experience. It’s not easy. Once Membership is achieved there is a commitment to professional standard to uphold and the profession map provides a framework for career progression and personal development. Does CIPD provide training – yep and it uses this to help cover its costs. Do Members HAVE to take CIPD training to get or maintain status – nope and Member message Boards (a valuable benefit allowing Members to draw on the expertise of 140 000 plus community) are ripe with informed recommendations of effective CPD provision from other providers.

Employers use the designation to set a benchmark for level of expertise that they want in a particular role – and using the profession map they can also define industry understood levels of specialism. Is it mandatory for someone working in HR to be Member? No. Does it help applicants to easily define their skills and experience in a way that employers recognise and value? Yep. (Brownie points for anyone who has both read this far and can define what a teacher is…..)

The research base for human resources – encompassing as it does organisational development, knowledge management, training and development, motivation and rewards etc. – is massive. Evidence based practice is well established. CIPD releases regular updates on research; carries out its own and support member inquiry and has a specific status with clearly defined status for Academic Members who research or teach in CIPD disciplines.

The regional networks are well supported and face to face meetings create strong local communities of practice; this is matched by specialist threads creating professional learning and skills sharing between those working in the same disciplines. Career pathways into specialisms as well as into management are respected and indeed encourage and supported.

Members can draw down resources that are reliable – tested by their community and validated by experts providing a security and a reassurance in an area where the personal, financial and legal ramifications of getting it wrong are significant. Do Members have to follow these religiously (a la National Strategies)? Nope, the whole point is that Members are professionals who can adapt resources to own contexts.

Debates on who is in or who is out don’t fill the message boards – many who have left HR practice, for example to balance family care needs or to work in other areas - stay in membership at a reduced rate but still use the frameworks and networks to stay up to date and many of them return to HR roles or to use their skills in future (a learning point perhaps on how at a time of teacher shortage the engagement and development of those who have already got some of the necessary ingredients is prudent).

Fees are £291 for 18 months – that is without new entrant or upgrade fees. Some employers pay but many Members pay for themselves (and lest myths about HR salaries are believed average HR Officer pay is c£31K).

Yes it has had 100 years of practice (but hasn’t teaching had just everso slightly more). And yes it is 16 years down a Chartered route. But really. Is it beyond us to create the same thing for teaching.

140 000 members. Thriving CPD. Evidence informed practice. Status. Community.

I have faith. I believe.