A vision for professionalism

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Position statement
20 March 2017
Teaching is an intellectual and learning profession, based on a high degree of continually developing general and systematised knowledge.

This includes an in-depth knowledge of:

  • learning: how pupils learn, obstacles to learning, how learning develops; 
  • curriculum content: knowledge of subjects and the relationships between them, a knowledge of how pupils’ understanding of particular content grows and develops, and understanding of wider content such as the development of thinking skills, problem solving, questioning and group working;
  • pupils’ needs, interests and potential obstacles to learning, developed through assessment and through relationships with pupils, families, communities and other professionals, and based on teaching’s care and responsibility for pupils’ learning;
  • the complex and compelling forces that influence daily living in a changing world, including the political, economic, technological, social and environmental, in order to know what pupils need to learn both in the present and for the future.

The teaching profession is also deeply practical, with a wide range of practices and methods which teachers have the ability to adapt to particular pupils, drawing on their theoretical understanding of learning, their subject and curriculum content knowledge and their knowledge of what pupils need.  

This professional knowledge and understanding is not static: it changes and develops over time. Teaching professionalism therefore involves a responsibility to the continued development of practical knowledge through reflection and interaction, including engagement with evidence and research, to review the nature and effectiveness of practice, and to continue to increase understanding of the purposes and content of education, individually and collectively.

Building on teachers’ knowledge and skills, the profession has a responsibility to further debate about policy and practice, to speak with authority on issues of social justice and the role of education.

Teaching as a profession has been forced into a model of compliance which is becoming less recognizable as ‘professional’ and increasingly unattractive to potential and existing teachers.  

We need a model which reflects the knowledge, skills and understanding which underpin it, and its rewards and challenges.

Professionalism position statement

Read our full position statement here.

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