• Building the culture of education for 5 to 8 year olds in the UK: a comparison of policy and attitudes in England and Scotland

      Sargent, Sandra (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2006-05)
      Although England and Scotland are two of the countries composing the UK, there are differences and similarities between the structures of education in each country. Teachers often struggle to explain the multi-faceted nature of their work and the general public rarely understands the complexities that educational professionals have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Teachers of 5 to 8 year olds in England and Scotland are expected to fulfil diverse and complex roles. Since devolution, changes have been implemented in Scotland affecting teachers' workload. Changes in the culture of education in both countries have affected the professional and personal lives of teachers. A larger dehumanisation of education in the name of efficiency and cost effectiveness is affecting the morale of teachers and many are leaving the profession. Historical method and a questionnaire are the main methods used to investigate the extent to which teachers of 5 to 8 year olds in England and Scotland have been affected by government legislation of the 1980s up to the present. The research also seeks to discover what changes teachers have made in order to work within the educational climate that resulted from that legislation. The questionnaire includes demographic data, scales for teachers to rate their ideal vs. actual teaching situations, emotive statements taken from a national survey for Likert scale response in terms of agreement or disagreement, and space for open-ended comments. The data were subjected to statistical analysis using SPSS. Two-way ANOVAs with repeated measures and one way ANOVAs were used in the analysis of the questionnaires, in addition to factor analysis. In the discussion of the findings, the historical accounts of the development of education in England and Scotland affecting the teachers of 5 to 8 year olds was used, along with respondents' open ended comments, to inform the results of the statistical analysis of the questionnaire. The findings show a perceived gap between respondents' ideal and actual teaching situations in both countries, and a somewhat negative trend in the overall response to both types of scaled items, with only a few group differences. The pattern of response is interpreted as showing dissatisfaction with managerialism in UK education, and it is argued that this emphasis is affecting the dynamics and cohesiveness of schools. The resulting, increasingly performative culture is perceived to be degrading the quality of early years' education by a process of depersonalisation and restricted implementation of professional expertise.
    • Primary headteachers’ perceptions of training teachers fit to practise within changing landscapes of teacher training

      Barron, Elaine Bernadette (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015-09)
      Recent changes to the provision for teacher training have seen a move to place greater responsibility for the training of teachers with schools rather than with Higher Education Institutes. The rationale appears to be the view that this will produce the kind of teachers schools are looking to employ. However, there appears to be little research focused on the opinions of the senior management of primary schools about whether they believe this to be the case, whether they feel schools are in a good position to undertake this training, and what impact they perceive such a move will have on primary schools. This study took a constructivist grounded theory approach to explore primary school headteachers’ perceptions of how best to train primary school teachers seen by them as fit to practise and what they perceived schools could and could not provide to support this outcome. Data were initially collected in a feasibility study exploring the views of the headteacher, the school-based mentor and the former trainee teacher in identifying their perceptions of factors which contributed to the outstanding outcome for a trainee on the Graduate Trainee Programme on the completion of his training year. Reflections on one of these factors in particular, that of the crucial role of the headteacher in enabling the successful outcome, at a time when a number of significant reforms to teacher training were being implemented, prompted a reconsideration of the focus of the main study to an exploration of headteachers’ perceptions of training teachers seen by them as fit to practise in primary schools in a changing landscape of teacher training. Twelve primary school headteachers participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed utilising a constant comparison method (Strauss and Corbin, 1990; Charmaz, 2006). Conclusions from a small scale study cannot easily be generalised. However the findings from the main study suggested the headteachers believed teachers who were fit to practise demonstrated the ability to think critically about their practice and that this attribute was under-represented in standards for teachers. In terms of training to become teachers fit to practise the headteachers supported the viewpoint of the primacy of practice but believed that practice alone was not sufficient to develop the teachers they sought to employ in their schools. In order to become critical thinkers trainee teachers needed to study the theory underpinning the teaching in schools. This study should be guided by experts, who most of the headteachers identified as academic partners, in teacher training located outside of the school. There was a measure of hostility from some of the headteachers to the idea that a teaching school could fulfil this expert role. The headteachers used a number of synonyms to describe the teachers they were seeking but all appeared to mean teachers fit to practise in their schools. The headteachers believed they had the ability to recognise the potential to become a teacher fit to practise in applicants to teaching and they used this to identify trainee teachers who would fit their schools. With greater responsibility for teacher training moving to schools this highlighted issues of equality of opportunity and a potentially insular approach to the training and recruitment of teachers. According to the headteachers, schools which participated in teacher training required at least a good Ofsted grade, a climate and skilled staff to support novices and strategic leadership by the headteacher. As part of the remit of this strategic leadership the headteachers perceived it was their role to protect their schools from external pressures such as Ofsted inspections. This, they believed, gave them the autonomy to decide on their level of participation, if any, in teacher training on an annual basis. Recommendations for further research, policy and partnerships have been made.
    • The role of linguistics in the learning, teaching and assessment of mathematics in primary education : a case study of a lower school in the United Kingdom

      Raiker, Andrea (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2008-02)
      This doctoral research was concerned with the role of language and its implications for the learning, teaching and assessment of mathematics for children aged 4-9 years. Earlier research by the author had established language and assessment as bridges enabling learning although they had the potential to increase the divide between teacher and learner. Reflection raised the question on how children achieved in mathematics despite potential difficulties with language and assessment. Review of the literature concluded that resources and sociocultural norms were also bridges between learner and teacher. A model was established of the relationships and processes between all perceived variables that provided an external, theoretical structure to be evaluated against structuralist, pragmatic and integrational linguistic approaches and empirical outcomes. The overarching approaches adopted were institutional ethnography and case study. An appropriate methodology was devised whereby sophisticated ICT equipment captured all visual and speech events during classroom interactions. Frequency analysis at word level, content analysis at utterance level and discourse analysis at total speech level triangulated with content analysis of interviews and evaluation of documentation completed the empirical research. Data analysis revealed five registers of children’s talk. Evidence suggested that the peer-peer ‘conditioned talk’ used in focused group work was the most effective for learning as it enabled them to discern the small steps in the inferential leaps in discourse made by their teachers, work out problems together, inform their peers, share findings and reinforce each others’ learning. Learners’ language showed aspects of structural, pragmatic and integrational linguistics, confirming a conclusion of the literature review that the various linguistic approaches discussed should be used to support and not exclude each other. The contribution made to knowledge is the ethnomethodology provided by the model, ICT resource and the five registers of talk revealed by the linguistic approach to discourse analysis. Teachers would be able to understand nuances of language used by their pupils and acquire essential skills and tools to put into effect the personalised learning agenda. Peer-peer observation of teachers would be an appropriate platform for the observation of the different registers used by learners, the resources that generate those registers, and their most effective use to close the gap between natural language and the subject specific language of mathematics.
    • “Taking the path of least resistance”: a constructivist grounded theory of H.E. teacher practice enactments at a UK landbased college

      Rapley, Eve (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2017-09)
      Landbased Studies Foundation and Bachelor degrees (FD and BSc) are generally taught in specialist FE landbased colleges, with teachers typically teaching both FE (Ofqual RQF Levels 0–3) and HE (Ofqual RQF Levels 4–6). Such teachers are designated in the literature as being HE in FE (Higher Education in Further Education) or CBHE (College Based Higher Education) teachers. Using a single case study landbased college, this study adopts a qualitative, naturalistic methodology using intensive interviewing and classroom observations of six Animal, Equine and Veterinary Nursing Studies HE in FE teachers. Characterised as an under-represented group within UK education research, these teachers teach both HE and FE within a small, UK landbased college. The study examines the nature of HE teacher pedagogic practice enactments, and factors which enable and constrain them within an FE college environment. Conceived within a interpretivist socio-constructivist framework, this study is influenced by the anti-dualist social philosophy of Practice Theory (PT) whereby people, places and material objects all contribute to how practice is enacted. Rather than considering material artefacts to be merely background objects and a college being simply an inert container where teaching takes place, a sensitivity to Practice Theory considers the FE context, material aspects and teacher pedagogic practices as a whole, rather than from one or other side of the structure versus agency divide. Within this study a particular variant of Practice Theory, Practice Architectures (PA) (Kemmis and Grootenboer, 2008), has been used to sensitise the study. The study adopts a Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT) approach as a means of exploring a neglected and under-theorised area of Post-Compulsory education. The CGT methodology influenced and guided the research design and interpretive data iv analysis. Using purposive sampling of teacher participants, theoretical sampling, and the iterative cycles of constant comparison associated with Grounded Theory (GT), the data was used to construct four key categories. From these categories three main theoretical themes were identified from the data; Surveillance and Control, Teacher Identity and Agency, and Pedagogic Risk Aversion. The interpretive analysis suggests that HE pedagogic practice enactments are influenced and constrained by the college as a site, by its management, and by the wider neoliberal landscape of surveillance and auditing, as well as by the teachers themselves, the HE students, and material, non-human physical spaces and artefacts. The resultant HE pedagogic practice enactments are risk averse, tending towards instrumentalism and teacher-centeredness. The final CGT theoretically accounts for the HE practice enactments of the HE in FE teachers at the college and is discussed in relation to HE in FE literature, and to a number of pertinent theories within and beyond education. The CGT contributes to an enhanced understanding of HE teacher pedagogic practice enactments, and has potential for generalisability beyond the specific college. The original contributions to knowledge consists of: devising a novel methodology whereby PT/PA and CGT are articulated; adding to the body of literature for HE in FE pedagogy; and adding to the pauce corpus of literature for landbased education.