Things in schools certainly are changing. Countless education related inquiries (the Assessment Inquiry, the Primary Review and the Good Childhood Inquiry to mention just a few) – let alone the Children's Plan - promise major changes in schools and what it will mean to teach in the 21st century.
There is similarly a growing array of research programmes competing to try and influence educators and sell their evidence - often contradictory - as the most reliable guide to ‘best practice'.
The ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme has suggested teachers follow evidence-based commandments (the ten principles of pedagogy).
These evidence-based policies now target an ever expanding number of people involved in the educational process. Education is increasingly 'outsourced' to learning guides, support assistants and other 'key workers' who facilitate and mentor children to create their own learning outcomes.
Teachers working alongside them face new demands for 'continuing professional development' in childcare and identifying children’s needs, as well as pressures to consider ideas such as 'neuro-linguistic programming' to increase their effectiveness as ‘classroom practitioners'.
Such a confusing scene begs questions about what teachers are for these days. Is a teacher a distinctive academic professional anymore or just one of an array of caring neo-professionals supporting the welfare of the child?
Is making teaching a more research-informed profession the best alternative to much-decried 'here one day, gone the next' policies and initiatives?
Or is evidence-informed pedagogy too narrow and prescriptive an approach to allow for teachers’ autonomy and creativity?- Institute of Ideas
Kathryn Ecclestone has worked in post-compulsory education, first as a "life and social skills" supervisor on youth employment programmes in the late 1970s, then as a teacher in FE and a teacher trainer for practitioners in further and adult education. Her research interests are in the field of assessment policy and practice, and their effects on teaching and on student autonomy.
Between 2002-2004, Ecclestone was associate director for further and adult education in the ESRC-funded Teaching and Learning Research Programme. Ecclestone is currently directing a project on Formative Assessment in further and adult education, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and an ESRC seminar series on emotional well-being and social justice. Ecclestone has just completed an ESRC seminar series for the TLRP on Transitions through the Lifecourse.
Ecclestone has published widely on teaching, assessment and education policy. Her most recent book, with Dennis Hayes, is The Dangerous Rise of the Therapeutic Education, a critique of the way that education increasingly focuses on the emotional vulnerability of children, young people and adults.
Tony Neal was elected onto the General Teaching Council by teachers in Spring 2000 and nominated onto the Council in 2004 by the Secondary Heads Association.
Tony Neal began his career as a maths teacher in Hertfordshire: Neal has a total of 38 years teaching experience including 25 years in Head and Deputy Head roles. Neal has brought to the GTC his understanding of teaching and school leadership as well as his extensive experience over 15 years as county, and then national officer for the SHA. Neal was national President of SHA in 2001/2.
Neal has published two books under the SHA imprimatur - Managing Targets and Managing Value-Added - as well as numerous articles on educational matters. Neal is proud to have been involved in the earliest years of the GTC. Neal looks forward to raising the profile of the Council in influencing national educational policy. Neal is Chair of the GTC's Policy and Research Committee.
Author of Teaching Today the UK's best selling teacher training text, Petty has a reputation for explaining learning and teaching issues in a down to earth, but lively and inspiring way. Petty has worked as a consultant with over 200 Colleges, and with most national educational agencies: Department for Children, Schools and Families, LSDA, LSC, FENTO and the AoC.
Petty speaks on learning and teaching issues at conferences all over the country, and his work issued at a national level in Romania and Lithuania.
Petty has worked as a physics teacher, a teacher trainer, and as a Learning Development Manager. Petty has written How to be Better at Creativity (Kogan Page), and his work has been translated into eight languages.
His website, www.geoffpetty.com, has lots of downloads on it, and gets visited about 2000 times a week. His new book, Evidence Based Teaching is written for practicing teachers and came out in 2006 to critical acclaim from academia and from practicing teachers.
Mark Taylor is Head of Humanities, "Achievement Co-ordinator" (i.e Head of Year 10) and a History teacher at Addey and Stanhope comprehensive school, South London. Taylor is an Institute of Ideas Education Forum committee member and regularly contributes to the forum's Opinion section.
Taylor writes and researches on the politics and history of education, and is currently researching educational reforms under Labour since 1997. Taylor is a qualified FA football coach, has taught abroad, has a PhD in urban history/policing and worked as a researcher gathering evidence on the impact of the "Zero Tolerance" policing initiative on drugs dealing in Kings Cross in the 1990s, before concluding that education was a more positive way of confronting social problems than social science.