Teachers should be supported to think more creatively about deciding what to teach and be encouraged to collaborate more with parents and local organisations, according to a report published by the RSA.
Re-thinking the Importance of Teaching concludes that the government's 2010 White Paper was unambitious in limiting its view of good quality teaching to 'expert subject knowledge' and 'classroom practice'.
The report argues that with schools enjoying increased levels of independence from the Department of Education there is scope to expand what can and should be expected of their teachers. The report recommends that:
Teachers be challenged and supported to meet the challenge of devolved curriculum design, including discussions about what young people should learn and what kinds of knowledge are important.
Schools should do more to embed themselves in their local communities, developing 'area-based curricula' through engaging with local businesses and heritage organisations.
Parents should be engaged as 'partners and resources', moving away from a traditional 'top down' relationship towards a two way process in which they work collaboratively with teachers and with the school.
More should be done to increase teacher's capability to work with diverse communities, including building confidence in working with class, race, faith and ethnicity issues.
Commenting on the report, RSA Senior Researcher Louise Thomas said:
"If we are to have a world leading, top class education system, it is not enough that we have teachers that are superb subject teachers, adept at managing classrooms. We need a profession that is creative, collaborative and confident enough in its own professional identity to operate as critical friends to education policy, leaders of educational thought, and collaborators with the communities they serve."
The report concludes that doubts about teacher capacity to develop curriculum and to engage with communities supports the idea that local commissioning or regulatory bodies may be necessary to form an 'intermediate layer' between individual institutions and the centre. The report advocates that such bodies engage closely with teachers, parents and community representatives as a means of ensuring local accountability and engagement.