Social media gaffe reveals low College of Teaching donations

The proposed College of Teaching came under fire today after a social media intern told donors their money would be taken even if pre-agreed conditions were not met.

Last October, the College of Teaching (CoT) launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise a £250,000 kick-starting fund by the end of next month. As of today, it has raised just £19,000.

In response to questions raised on social media about the viability of the campaign in the face of low donations, an employee stated on the CoT twitter account that the “minimum” fundraising target was £40,000.

Previously the CoT had stated on its website that “if the project was unsuccessful no money would change hands”. The minimum £40,000 had never been published.

An hour later, when teachers on social media complained, the organisation tweeted that a social media intern had made “a mistake”.

Speaking to Schools Week, College of Teaching founding trustee Angela McFarlane said: “We have got a very experienced crowdfunder who now runs our Twitter stream, but she did make a slip up here. We have not made a change in the funding target.”

She added: “We know people do not have a lot of cash, and we would want to emphasise that it is not the amount they give that matters to the College. It is about creating a network of like-minded people who can come together and be part of a movement. It doesn’t matter if they only give £1.”

She said it was “far too early” to know if the campaign would succeed. “Obviously, we hope it will raise that amount. We will notify people about what is going on.”

Ms McFarlane also said she could not understand some “negative and aggressive” responses to the College on social media.

“This is something that we know people want. We are also not going to force people to join – it is entirely voluntary. If they don’t want to join, they don’t have to. It is not a government initiative, it is led by the profession.

“We are not doing anything nefarious here.”

It is understood the CoT has other planned income streams, including “major” philanthropic donations due ahead of the February deadline.

The CoT has amended its website to emphasise the number of donors needed (1,000), rather than the amount it wishes to raise (£250,000). So far, 151 people have pledged a total of £19,247.

The crowdfunding campaign has until Thursday, February 25 to raise £250,000. It will only take pledged money if that target is reached.

It is not the first time the crowdfunding campaign has come under scrutiny. On its launch, questions were raised about a £10,000 pledge made by the Primary Science Teaching Trust.

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  1. As a someone who has pledged the £50 needed to be a founding sponsor of the college, I urge others to do the same. Teachers need to take control of their professional destiny and, although I am not a teacher, I come from a family of teachers. The profession needs to rally round this initiative and ‘make some noise’ – a pledge of even £1 is an indication there is another voice joining the clamour to secure the future status and direction of teaching. Now is not the time to leave it to others – snap out of the post-Christmas malaise and ‘claim your college’ now!

    • I’m in. Glad you’re in too Debra. Here’s my summary of Angela’s presentation at the Politics in Education Summit (

      “Unlike several hundred professions, there is not an active chartered body for teaching and there’s no other professional body of this kind in education; autonomous by virtue of its royal charter and voluntary. With there being no agreed pathway into teaching and unstructured professional development thereafter, it’s important teachers come together to hammer out some nationally agreed standards of development, accredited by chartered professional status. This new chartered body, if it works, will be run by members for members and ultimately, for the benefit of learners. This aligns the vision with other professional communities that exist to ensure the best outcomes for those they serve, such as the Royal Colleges of Medicine, Chartered Institutes of Engineers and Chartered Accountancy Bodies.”

      There are lots of teacher-led organisations, I hope for more of them, but how many have a Royal Charter with the potential to create a recognised Chartered Status for Teaching Professionals? This is the only one and, whatever happens, those bringing us this chance have done so much to get this far.

      • The Chartered Institute only represents a small proportion of engineers. The Chartered Accountancy bodies represent a small proportion of accountants. The Royal Colleges of Medicine as you refer to them seem to represent specific (smallish) proportions of the the medical profession.

        “There are lots of teacher-led organisations, I hope for more of them, but how many have a Royal Charter with the potential to create a recognised Chartered Status for Teaching Professionals?”

        You seem to imply that those who are not able to achieve chartered status will not be regarded as professional teachers. You seem to imply that those who choose not to sign up to the College of Teachers will not be professional teachers.

        This is a divisive approach and likely part of the reason that most teachers want nothing to do with the thing.

        I am proud to be a teacher. I am proud to be associated with all of those teachers who do a great job day in day out without the need for chartered staus.

        The College of Teaching is both elitist and divisive and I truly hope that the idea is extinguished before it can do too much damage.

        I appreciate that we all have a different view and I quite understand those who wish to go in this direction. I just disagree.

  2. Claire Dockar

    Thank you so much Matthew for your pledge. Having hosted one of the first Big Staff Meetings at Lipson this afternoon, I hope that teachers will take away exactly your message – this is a College for teachers, run by teachers and every pledge, no matter how small, shows us that we have support.

  3. As a UK Secondary teacher I have to say that I cannot see any situation in which I would join the College of Teaching in it’s current form.

    I believe poor Mattthew, in his comment above may come across to some as a little desperate.

    Ms Mcfarlane “said she could not understand some “negative and aggressive” responses to the College on social media.”…..well maybe she should listen a little rather than just failing to understand. Surely the College will need to listen if it is to represent teachers.

    According to the document linked in the above article….

    “The College of Teaching last week announced its 13 founding trustees – five teachers, three headteachers and five non-teaching professionals.”

    That is 5 from 13 teachers. You really don’t have to be Marcellus to realise that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. It isn’t complicated.

    I actually sat and laughed when I read this one….”snap out of the post-Christmas malaise and ‘claim your college’ now!”.

    I have had many run ins with Andrew Old, the influential blogger and he blocks me on twitter as our differences run so deep. He has consistently made his views known regarding ‘my college’ and it is clear that there is very little support for this ‘representative’ body.

    I would have to admit that if Old Andrew started a crowdsourced funding initiative for an alternative that did acually represent teachers, for which the founding trustees were by majority actual teachers who teach children, I would be the first to make a donation. I would even vote for Andrew for president.

    I think there is every possibility that if the proposed organisation does get off of the ground and fashion the future of the profession, the resulting direction will be far from thate vision that most teachers would wish to see.

    The stock reply to anyone who confuses Ms McFarlane by expressing their concerns (sorry that should be negative and aggressive comments) is that membership is not compulsory. I am astonished that such a response is considered appropriate for an organisation that says it will put teachers in control.