All in a day's work: Primary teachers 'performing' and 'caring'

Gillian Forrester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses the current nature of primary teachers' work, which is explored in terms of 'performing' and 'caring' activities. It considers how the education policies of successive Governments in the UK, particularly for England, have given rise to a 'performance culture' in primary schools which emphasises targets, testing and tables and is overly concerned with the monitoring and measurement of teachers' work. The article examines teachers' experiences of working in a more competitive and performance-driven environment particularly given that primary teaching is historically perceived as 'women's work' and linked with caring and mothering. The introduction of performance related pay and performance management in schools in England by the New Labour Government has made 'performing' activities more transparent while undermining, overshadowing and rendering invisible 'caring' activities in primary schools. The findings suggest that there appears to be a changing role for women teachers as the primary school culture shifts significantly from its association with the feminine qualities of nurturing towards a more masculine culture of management and performance. © 2005 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-287
Number of pages16
JournalGender and Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


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