Thursday 30 May 2013

#blogsync May CSciTeach by the ASE as a method to raise the status of science teaching in the UK

This post forms part of #blogsync May, other blogs can be found here, I definitely encourage reading them! I also appreciate it is quite a short post, sorry about that!

For my part I feel I am way at the bottom of the teaching 'food chain.' Despite being a subject coordinator with 9 years teaching experience in both mainstream and special education I do not feel my views are listened to on a bigger scale because I work in a special school. This 'labels' me - a lot of mainstream teachers have asked me 'how can any teaching be 'good' or 'outstanding' if the behaviour is "that" bad?' That's an entirely different issue! Probably an entirely separate blog....

When I first started doing a few presentations to mainstream heads of department about managing disengaged children or how to handle coursework/controlled assessments with SEND students they started to listen, I was getting great feedback about how helpful I was being and how valuable my contributions were.

At that stage I wanted to raise the stakes, which leads nicely onto something which I feel does raise the status of the teaching profession, in science anyway but I'm sure there are equivalents in other subjects.

I went to the Association of Science Education's (ASE) Conference in Reading back in January, right at the end of the holidays. I was excited but nervous, I didn't know anyone in person but was due to meet the #ASEChat crowd (8-9 on Mondays on Twitter if you're a scientist!)
It was a great experience meeting so many other dedicated science teachers, lecturers and other professionals. We all had lunch together and got to know each other over the 2 days I was there.

A few of us had decided we were going to go to one of the sessions about becoming a Chartered Science Teacher. I wasn't sure, I didn't know whether I met the criteria or even if I took the time to fill out the form whether I'd be eligible.

I chatted to Richard Needham (@ViciaScience) for a while who assured me that the work I did was more than eligible and that I should apply.

That was where it was left, until the deadline started to approach (typical leaving it til the last minute!)
Then I finally got writing. I had to write all about the work I had done building a science curriculum for boys with BESD from nothing, what I did, the journey, where we are now and where we are going next (Gove dependent of course!) I wrote all about the responsibilities I have for choosing appropriate courses and why we 'do what we do.' It made me realise I do far more than I thought and was actually very important in helping me think about the next steps.  It was also useful when I completed a couple of application forms in an unsuccessful bid to move jobs....

So why is this important? How could it improve the status of the teaching profession. Well.

The ASE is the largest subject organisation in the UK. They are involved at all levels of education in terms of curriculum, forming a national network of teachers, technicians, lecturers and advisors.
The website says about their role:

"The Association plays a significant role in promoting excellence in teaching and learning of science in schools and colleges. Working closely with the science professional bodies, industry and business, the ASE provides a UK-wide network bringing together individuals and organisations to share ideas and tackle challenges in science teaching. The ASE is an independent and open forum for debating science education, with unique benefits for members. It provides a unique range of services to promote high quality science education by developing resources and fostering high quality Continuing Professional Development." [accessed May 31st 2013]

I feel by being recognised by subject organisations and subsequently working with them, teachers have a way to raise the status of their particular subject and the profession. I feel the award of CSciTeach reaffirms to me my professionalism, it gives me confidence and reminds me what I am capable of. It also tells me that the ASE value all science teachers regardless of their school setting.

The fact I can say to my headteacher, or any other headteacher that I have this award and explain what it means changes their viewpoint. I am no longer 'a teacher in a special school' I am a 'special teacher in a special school'

If anyone is interested in CSciTeach or the ASE's other awards of RSci or RSciTech or the Primary Science Charter Mark please look here: 

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