The College of Teaching

Written by: Dame Alison Peacock | Published:
Image: iStock

The new Chartered College of Teaching is open for membership. We asked chief executive Dame Alison Peacock to explain just what it offers to primary teachers when it comes to evidence-informed practice, CPD and support

In January, the Chartered College of Teaching – the new teacher-led professional body for teachers – opened its doors to members. Prior to its launch, the College hosted a series of focus groups with teachers representing the diverse range of educational settings including early years, primary, middle, secondary, pupil referral units, independent, special schools and further education. The aim of these focus group sessions was to identify teachers’ views on what the College could do for the teaching profession and how it can make a difference to teaching and learning.

The key issues highlighted covered teacher professionalism, access to high-quality research, credibility and sustainability and the sharing of classroom practice. Supporting teachers’ CPD is central to the College. This aligns with the Department for Education’s Standards for Teachers’ Professional Development (2016), which set out the expectations for keeping knowledge and skills up-to-date, and emphasises the importance of reflection and understanding for increasing the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

Making evidence-informed research accessible

Teachers need access to a broad range of skills and knowledge that can be adapted and fine-tuned to meet widely varying education contexts and pupil needs. There has already been debate about whether busy teachers have the time (and indeed the motivation) to search through the mountain of research, the skills to critically evaluate it and the means to identify ways to make use of it in their teaching. Crucially, will this effort help to change classroom practice for the better?

The value of evidence is not just in the rigour of the content and its potential impact, but also in its relevance and accessibility for educational practice. The College will continue its work with teachers, school leaders and academics to produce useful research summaries and it will support the development of teachers’ skills for interpreting and interrogating research evidence. Membership of the College connects the education community, presenting opportunities for collaboration, and for reflection on and engagement with research that is useful in practice and has an impact on learners. There will be opportunities for teachers to test new approaches in the classroom, or provide feedback from experience.

An archive of knowledge for primary education

Providing access to the latest research, case studies, articles and examples of good practice is also a key element of the College’s mission. When new members join the College, they receive online access to more than 2,000 journals, comprising a broad range of high-quality, up-to-date research covering all aspects of education.

The College will be curating the combined online resources of the Cambridge Primary Review and the Cambridge Primary Review Trust. This collection of over 100 publications, plus a host of official submissions and other material, is a highly respected source of ideas, information and research evidence relating to the development and education of young children. Teachers and school leaders can benefit from access to this extensive archive through the College.

This important resource bank has gathered and analysed evidence to balance opinion-seeking with empirical data with a view to providing an informed voice on curriculum pedagogy. Placing evidence-informed practice at the heart of teaching provides confidence in decision-making about new or existing methods of teaching, as well as help to identify best practice and eliminate time spent on activities proven not as worthwhile. Working from a strong evidence base has potential to develop a greater sense of autonomy and enhance teachers’ status and credibility as informed educators.

Professor Robin Alexander, chair of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust, echoed this sentiment in the Cambridge Primary Review’s final report: “We need to move to a position where research-grounded teaching repertoires and principles are introduced through initial training and refined and extended through experience and CPD, and teachers acquire as much command of the evidence and principles which underpin the repertoires as they do of the skills needed in their use. The test of this alternative view of professionalism is that teachers should be able to give a coherent justification for their practices citing (i) evidence, (ii) pedagogical principle and (iii) educational aim, rather than offering the unsafe defence of compliance with what others expect. Anything less is educationally unsound."

What next for the College?

This month, the College publishes its first edition of Impact, its new journal, on the theme of perspectives on evidence-informed practice. This issue will include original research, perspectives on using evidence, case studies and reflections from teachers to encourage more of the profession to engage with research for the benefit of improved education for children.

In its first three months the College has signed up more than 3,000 members. Covering all phases of education, sectors and subject specialisms, we are already connecting a diverse community of teachers to share ideas and knowledge and provide an independent, authoritative voice for the teaching profession. In the coming months, the resources, collaborative opportunities and tools available to members will expand. The long-term aim is for the College to grow and become the go-to destination for all teachers: a place where they can develop the evidence-informed expertise necessary for securing the best outcomes for all pupils. 

  • Dame Alison Peacock is the former executive headteacher of The Wroxham Primary School in Hertfordshire and inaugural chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching.

Further information

The Chartered College of Teaching: https://chartered.college/


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