Being a 'professional' primary school teacher at the beginning of the 21st century: A comparative analysis of primary teacher professionalism in New Zealand and England

Terry Locke, Graham Vulliamy, Rosemary Webb, Mary Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article analyses findings from two studies conducted collaboratively across two educational settings. New Zealand and England, in 2001-2002. These studies examined the impact of national educational policy reforms on the nature of primary teachers' work and sense of their own professionalism and compared these impacts across the two countries. Adopting a policy ethnography approach, using in-depth interview data from samples of teachers in each country, it is argued that there have been discursive shifts in the meaning of the three key terms, autonomy, altruism and knowledge, embodied in the classical professionalism triangle. These shifts reflect policy-makers' moves from a 'professional-contextualist' conception of teacher professionalism towards the 'technocratic-reductionist' conception that accompanies neo-liberal educational reforms in many countries. Teachers in both countries experienced increasing constraints on their autonomy as they became far more subject to 'extrinsic' accountability demands. Whether these demands were perceived as enhancing or diminishing teacher professionalism depended on the manner in which they were filtered through the profession's defining quality, namely teachers' altruistic concerns for the welfare of the children in their care. © 2005 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-581
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005

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