Train Aid's Nick Chadwick catches up with Berta Miguez from the Society of Education & Training to learn about Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) and the benefits it could have on your own career within teaching  


Nick: Can you please explain to our listeners what is ATS?

Berta: ATS stands for Advanced Teacher Status and is a badge of advanced professionalism and mastery within further education and training. If you are familiar with QTLS, ATS is essentially one step up.  ATS is more for participants who are in an advanced practitioner role which means that they will have to coach and mentor colleagues and demonstrate mastery in teaching and learning. Participants will also need to show how they will demonstrate how their practice impacts on their fellow colleagues and their organisation.

Nick:  What are the benefits of undertaking ATS?

Berta:  The achievement of ATS will enable you to gain Chartered Teacher Status, ATS has got legal parity with this status and conferred by the College of Teaching. Achievement of ATS will allow you to demonstrate to employees and colleagues your mastery in teaching and learning, it will also advance your career into more senior roles. You can use the letters ATS as letters within your signature and profile, and it in terms of SET membership you will be upgraded to ‘fellow’. There are quite a few benefits in terms of career development and the contribution that you are making towards your organisation and eventually to the wider sector. 

Nick: Is there a right time for anyone to begin ATS?

Berta: In order for you to be eligible for ATS you need to have gained QTLS and you need to have had a timescale of four years from when you have achieved your teacher training qualification until the time you begin ATS. Another important point is that you need to be in a position in your organisation where you can demonstrate impact and how you can support your colleagues. ATS is at the level of an advanced practitioner, teaching and learning coach, middle or senior management position and somewhere within the organisation where you have the opportunity to demonstrate impact on your colleagues and the organisation. You will be underpinning your ATS journey with the latest educational research and practice and evaluate how this research resonates within your own practice.

Nick: What are the key dates when applying to ATS?

Berta: There is one cohort a year and this starts in October of every year, our last cohort started on the 1st October 2019, the next one will be October 2020. For participants who want to apply for ATS can do by applying to the Society for Education and Training website to review the ATS eligibility criteria. On there, candidates can express their interest in an online forum and then fill in the application form which is a word document which explains how to submit it to SET.  So the panel will decide whether you will meet the criteria or not, you can submit 3-4 months before the start time.

Nick:  What are the phases of ATS?

Berta: There are 4 different phases and each of them includes the number of activities. You start with the About You section and that contains factual information about you, such as your name, name of your mentor, your qualifications and also your reasons for undertaking ATS.  Also your current roles and responsibilities.

Then, you have your self-assessment which is very comprehensive for ATS, you have to complete an online self-assessment tool, which is used as the same one used for QTLS. We expect to see how you rate yourself against each of the 20 professional standards and make brief reflective comments explaining as to why you gave yourself that rating. Part of the self-assessment is the initial observation and the 360-degree assessment, this is a form where you have all 20 professional standards and you need feedback from a colleague, a manager and three learners. You are using the three sources, the 360-degree assessment, the initial observation and the online self-assessment to form your professional development plan and your CPD record which is phase 2.

Phase 3 focuses on your developmental activities, first you have your self-assessment where you plan how you are going to develop; and then you have to conduct activities to demonstrate how you are developing those areas which you identify as requiring improvement. The development activities include coaching and mentoring (it is always useful to brush up on education theory and the models of coaching and mentoring) such as Grove and OSCAR and any other model that you use. You also have to demonstrate how you promote the benefits of technology and how you develop your own skills within it.

You have to complete a quality improvement project and this is aimed at demonstrating the impact that your ATS is going to have in your organisation. You need to record everything that you are doing and also have a CPD log. All these activities which you are developing during phase 3 will be recorded as significant moments within your reflective diary. The reflective diary runs all across your journey, if there is something significant such as part your research or an activity that happened during that time, you will record within your diary. Another one of the developmental activities is the critical incident where you will need to collaborate with a colleague to demonstrate how you resolved that critical incident and what happened.

Phase 4 is the critical narrative, this will bring together all elements of your journey and you are expected to write at the level of an advanced practitioner which means that you need to go beyond description. You need to be critical and evaluative, not only of your journey but also of the research that you have read and applied and the education theory behind it. Bringing all the aspects of the journey together. Once that is done you can share this with your mentor who can write their statement and with your manager who will write their statement and then share this with the Society for Education and Training.

Nick:  After completion, what is the next step? 

Berta:  Once that the participant has submitted their portfolio online it goes to the reviewer. There are two outcomes, ‘CM’ stands for criteria met, which means the participant is invited to a VIVA. The VIVA is a 45minute- 1-hour conversation with a small panel from the ATS team to discuss the journey, it is for participants to showcase that journey and to discuss how the journey impacted had on their practice, the practice of their colleagues and the organisation. Once the VIVA has been successfully achieved, the participant gets awarded ATS status and is invited to attend the next graduation ceremony which is held with the Chartered College of Teaching.

The other outcome is ‘CNM’ which stands for criteria not met. If this happens that the portfolio has not met the criteria, the participant will receive detailed written feedback on which aspects of the portfolio needs to be improved or worked on, they will also have a 30 minute conversation with one of the member of the ATS team who will clarify the feedback and the participants will have time to develop that aspect that they have been asked to develop and they can resubmit and they will go into the next available round of VIVA’s eventually leading to ATS status.

Nick-  What is your advice for learners when deciding on what to focus on within their ATS portfolio?

Berta:  It depends on the background of the participant and on the setting where they are teaching. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to keep it simple especially with the improvement project, always be clear what your aims are and what group of learners and colleagues or students you are going to do the project with. It is best to keep the project contained and focus on a clear outcome.

Also, one of the many pitfalls is that the ATS learner is very descriptive in their writing, we want to see if the learner is going beyond that and involve critical and analytical comments and how the participant has evaluated what they have read and the research they have done and how the teaching theories have resonated with their teaching experiences. We always advise participants that if they do not have a coaching or mentoring background, please brush up on coaching and mentoring skills and models. If it has been a while since you have taken part in research, perhaps be mindful of ethical issues, guidelines and please ensure that you are familiar with different methods of data collection and analysis, different research models ideally before you register with ATS to ensure that you are ‘ATS fit’.