• Empowerers, inspirers, knowledge providers # living the dream: FE teachers' professional identity in challenging times

      Thompson, Carol; Wolstencroft, Peter (Universite Rennes 2/ESREA, 2019-03-01)
      The dynamic nature of English Further Education (FE) has caused a crisis of identity for many tutors in the sector.  The reduction in funding (Tickle, 2014) and the focus on the product, rather than the process of learning, has changed the role of the educator and also their ability to articulate their professional status.  Recent research (Thompson and Wolstencroft, 2017) found that there has been a significant shift in role perception for FE practitioners.  Previously, teachers in the sector identified themselves within an educational paradigm underpinned by notions of social justice which prioritised student achievement from a developmental perspective.  Through progressive cultural shifts towards a more data driven focus this perspective now acknowledges a different definition of 'achievement' which in turn has had an impact on teachers' agency and professional identity. In the first stage of this research, a case study approach was taken to compare two diverse organisations within the FE sector in England.  Purposive sampling was used to select a cross section of participants for semi-structured interviews.  This was followed up by focus groups to explore the initial findings.  The final stage of the research extended beyond the initial case study organisations and used a questionnaire to explore respondents' definitions of their professional roles.  The initial findings depicted a group of professionals constrained by rigorously monitored working environments, who, after completing teacher education had limited involvement in wider professional communities.  Similarly, participants in the second phase of the research depicted professional identities which were clearly set in context.  The research also revealed practitioners’ aspirations in relation to the purpose of their professional roles alongside a pragmatic acceptance of the constraints which detracted from achieving this purpose.