Advanced Skills Teachers - Looking to the Future


One of the few really good initiatives of the last government was the creation of the Advanced Skills Teachers. It was part of the push to keep quality practitioners in the classroom rather than forcing ambitious and able professionals into management.

It’s clear from recent AST conferences that they have largely taken over the role of CPD coordinators as CPD budgets have been squeezed and the validity of one-day courses and the use of expensive consultants have been more rigorously scrutinised. But ASTs have always offered a more potentially transformational role than CPD coordinators and where used properly, with SLT support, have had a profound impact on both teaching and student performance in a school.

But ASTs as we know them are under threat. The government review suggests that both AST and Excellent Teacher grades go and are replaced by one new designation called Master Teacher. At what level of pay, and what level of national funding will be allocated to them is unclear, as is whether such funding will be ring-fenced or not.

In the general context of education cuts and budget stringency, it doesn’t look good. But the stress on teaching and learning in the new Ofsted Framework, the creation of teaching schools and the fact that Master Teachers are arriving as ASTs are going, suggests some of the lessons might have been learned.

Steven Hillier, the head of the TDA, told a recent AST conference that: ‘In Singapore 80% of pupils achieve the equivalent of five good GCSEs, including English and mathematics. In England, our floor target is 35%, rising to 50% in 2015.’

He also showed a diagram that illustrated how Singapore had three streams of career progression for teachers, one for management, one for subject experts, up to Chief Specialist level and one for teaching experts, up to Principe Master Teacher. Our ASTs generally are operating three levels below this.

The expertise of teaching …the ‘craft’ of teaching as Steven Hillier described it, is finally moving center stage, but the culture of professional development that he rightly said was necessary to create a self-improving education system, on par with our national competitors, is still just a distant hope.


Looking to the Future – National Leading Teachers

Creative Teaching & Learning