Thank a Teacher Day 2024: A Call for Respect and Recognition in Education 7 Jun 2024

Written by Dame Alison Peacock DL, DLitt, CEO of Chartered College of Teaching.

As CEO of the Chartered College of Teaching, I truly believe that teaching is the most rewarding job in the world. It also underpins every other endeavour, whether that’s building thriving communities and a functioning society, supporting practical, creative and knowledge-led work, encouraging caring and respectful relationships, or meeting the challenges of climate change, digital technology and threats to peace.  

By supporting every individual child and young person to learn, whatever their circumstances, those who work in education change lives for the better. What could be more important than that? 

I am deeply concerned, then, about how often the work of teachers is undermined or goes unrecognised.

Attitudes in the press and amongst politicians imply too often that teachers need to be told how to do their jobs and simply given the (“evidence-based”) best way to teach all students, rather than being supported, developed and trusted to use their own professional judgement in applying evidence–informed practices in their settings.

I believe that this is a huge part of our recruitment and retention problems and that all of the important initiatives to reduce workload, improve wellbeing and increase flexible working may come to nothing unless we address the root issue: the erosion of respect and trust in our professionalism. 

 

 

At the Chartered College, we have recently published our working definition of professionalism. We believe that professionalism is based on three core and interlinked domains:  

  • cognitive, which includes collaborative and critical engagement with bodies of knowledge;  
  • ethical, including the balance of commitment to pupils with self-care and wellbeing; and  
  • the legal and social domain, which includes informed autonomy to make professional decisions. 

In the day-to-day life of the classroom, this means teachers engaged with research, critically evaluating its uses with their pupils and in their context, adapting and implementing it as needed. This engagement isn’t passive – simply ‘delivering’ evidence-based pedagogy.

It includes a responsibility to share successes and questions, collaborating to build new knowledge from observations and action research. It means having the confidence, based on evidence and practice-informed theory, to make professional decisions about what’s right for pupils and to argue for it as needed. And having the confidence to make decisions about what’s right for teachers, leaders and support staff, to make space to increase professionalism and nurture professional identity. Professionalism is active and collaborative. 

This is really important. Education professionals are in the best place to know what pupils need. A trusted and respected profession should have the capacity to flex provision and pedagogy to meet those needs, so that children and young people will thrive.

A profession should be able to engage with the latest evidence around subjects, so that young people are supported to play their part in the world as it is becoming, and to shape its future. But the evidence also shows that building professionalism is about improving teachers’ practice and feelings of self-efficacy, which we know improves job satisfaction and which can only help to make teaching attractive to new starters and experienced practitioners alike.

 

 

Our mission at the Chartered College is to empower a knowledgeable and respected teaching profession, in particular by bridging the gap between research and practice. We are the professional community for those who work in education. We know from research that teachers who work in more professional environments are more effective, and that high quality professional development is key to the creation of positive learning cultures in schools.

So we offer CPD pathways for individuals to develop their professional knowledge and group membership that helps build learning communities in schools and across MATs. We’re supporting learning communities more widely through our programmes of Research Champions and Rethinking Curriculum. And our members share their research, knowledge and reflection through our journal, Impact. 

I truly believe that a knowledgeable and respected profession can be powerful. Teachers are already knowledgeable, and committed to growing that knowledge. They are already respected by colleagues and in many of the communities they serve. There is more that needs to be done to enable the profession to flourish. Three things in particular could help:  

  • time and funding for professional development which builds three-way communication between research, policy and practice, valuing teachers’ role in building new knowledge;  
  • an end to punitive, high stakes accountability systems and the development of an inclusive system that puts stronger focus on peer-learning, feedback and trust; and  
  • real, meaningful conversations between policy-makers and professionals to create sustainable change that improves wellbeing and reduces workload. 

The point of a profession, and particularly a professional community, is that we are not alone in this vital work. The work of continually learning and building knowledge, of growing and supporting colleagues, and of using expertise and knowledge to make a difference across the education system. To make a difference that will improve education for all children and young people. As professionals, we need to speak out about what our pupils, our teachers, and our system needs in order to thrive.  

Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, even while it can be exhausting. In all my conversations and visits I’m constantly reminded of the dedication of everyone who works in education, their commitment to pupils and to making the education system the best it can be. On Thank a Teacher Day 2024, I believe that the best way of saying thank you would be for those who make the big policy decisions to listen, to trust and to respect our amazing profession.   

Written by Dame Alison Peacock DL, DLitt, CEO of Chartered College of Teaching. Prior to becoming CEO of the Chartered College of Teaching, Professor Dame Alison Peacock was Executive Headteacher of The Wroxham School in Hertfordshire. Her career to date has spanned primary, secondary and advisory roles. In 2018, she became an Honorary Fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge, one of the first ever female Fellows admitted. She is also a Visiting Professor of both the University of Hertfordshire and Glyndwr University.

 

National Thank Teacher Day is taking place on Wednesday 19th June 2024. It’s the perfect opportunity to express your gratitude for the incredible teachers and support staff who make a difference every day in schools across the country. Join us in celebrating their dedication by sharing our assets to spread the word and sending a free, limited edition personalised e-card to that special educator or support staff member. It’s a simple yet meaningful way to say “thank you” for all they do.