Teachwell | The Unethical Code of the College of Teaching
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The Unethical Code of the College of Teaching

By Hermann Rorschach - "Bought to Rorschach Institute in the 80's and digitally restored by me.", Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2187240
By Hermann Rorschach - "Bought to Rorschach Institute in the 80's and digitally restored by me.", Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2187240

Over the course of the last year, I have changed my stance on the College of Teaching. I had hoped that it could be a body that would represent all teachers. I pledged money to it during the crowdfunding campaign, argued with people I would normally agree with both publically and privately on twitter, because I really did feel it should be given a chance.


However, the actions of the College of Teaching have left me cynical. It has become clear that it is simply a power grab by the education establishment.


The refrain from the pro-College of Teaching camp is the same any time there is criticism –  you have to engage with it. So, in one final bid to give the College of Teaching a chance I went to one the focus groups they have been organising recently. One attendee hoped that the College of Teaching would lead to a depoliticisation of education.


What struck me was the way in which the attendee assumed their progressive/constructivist stance, mirrored by the College of Teaching, is politically neutral. It seems to me that the College of Teaching have convinced themselves this is the case.


Hence the surprise if they are called out on professing a preference for Australian teaching standards or agreeing with Jo Boaler’s anti-memorisation stance. Yet, the final straw for me is the proposed Code of Ethics (contained in a pre-focus group survey we were asked to complete and hand in).

Consulting 300 professionals means nothing if they don’t understand the difference between purpose, aims, teaching methods and ethics.

This is nothing short of an attempt to impose constructivist principles and ideas, smearing those teachers who disagree as unethical.

The worse aspects, as I see it, are as follows:

“secure optimum…..well-being of pupils”

Teachers and schools exist to provide an education, the well-being of pupils is part of that but it is not equal to that function. Take away education and the raison d’etre is gone, take away well-being and it isn’t.

By including this alongside educational achievement, it gives legitimacy to an ill-defined concept, used to mask poor teaching practice and low expectations.

This is the parent’s role not ours as teachers. Securing the optimum well-being of a pupil may well involve the child moving school, the head teacher or teacher being complained about, etc. We can not be neutral arbiters of this.

The ethical code refers to working collaboratively with parents to achieve standards of excellence. How does that work? We are responsible for their well-being entirely but achieving educational outcomes we share with the parents? This seems to be the reverse of what it should be.

“Inspiring curiosity and creativity in learners”

How is this a matter of ethics? Answers on a postcard. Could you also include a definition of creativity that we can hold teachers to?  Only cold-hearted monsters teach knowledge focused or consolidation lessons don’t you know.

It is hardly based on a “robust interpretation of … evidence” that is referred to elsewhere. How can the College of Teachers judge whether teachers are complying with a code of ethics which they don’t follow themselves? One rule for them and one for us?

“doing no harm (physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally)”

Not really sure why this is separate from safeguarding. This would not really be controversial if it weren’t for the tendency of progressive educationalists to label any practice they don’t like as child abuse and diagnose causes of mental health problems based on personal beliefs.

Who is going to determine what is harm? If the College of Teaching decides that testing is “doing harm” then overnight we would have to stop testing because otherwise we would be breaking the code of ethics. If it can’t convince through argument and evidence,  then top-down dictat will do?

Those hurt by accusations of being called The Blob can get their own back by holding ‘show trials’ like the ILEA and, more recently, the Scottish GTCS, to show who is the boss after all. Talking of show trials…

“Inspiring public trust and confidence in the teaching profession”

I would like to believe that this would be used only for teachers who act and behave in a manner that we can all agree is abhorrent, like embezzle school funds or groom pupils, but I doubt it.

Make no bones about this, this would give the College of Teaching the ability to strike off teachers who are critical of it and the teaching practices it prefers. This is a blatant attempt to go after the careers of those who write blogs highlighting the issues that those who favour the current orthodoxy would rather sweep under the carpet. This would also serve to protect those with vested interests that the College of Teaching are so keen to include, both formally and informally.

The only diversity that the College of Teaching seems unable to acknowledge and accept is diversity of thought among teachers. I can imagine the College of Teaching coming back with the usual line of “this is an opening gambit”. But every opening gambit of the College of Teaching displays reinforcing the constructivist orthodoxy in schools.

It is clear that the College of Teaching are determined to ensure that the “ethics” of the profession enable them to impose their favoured pedagogy and finish the job of getting rid of traditional teachers from the state sector.

The sole purpose of an unethical code is to justify unethical practices.

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