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Social trajectories or disrupted identities? : Changing and competing models of teacher professionalism under New Labour

By Sandra Leaton Gray and Geoff Whitty


Since the 1988 Education Reform Act, the teacher’s role in England has changed in many ways, a process which intensified under New Labour after 1997. Conceptions of teacher professionalism have become more structured and formalized, often heavily influenced by government policy objectives. Career paths have become more diverse and specialised. In this article, three post-1997 professional roles are given consideration as examples of these new specialised career paths: Higher Level Teaching Assistants, Teach First trainees and Advanced Skills Teachers. The article goes on to examine such developments within teaching, using Bourdieu’s concept of habitus to inform the analysis, as well as Bernstein’s theories of knowledge and identity. The article concludes that there has been considerable specialization and subsequent fragmentation of roles within the teaching profession, as part of workforce remodelling initiatives. However, there is still further scope for developing a greater sense of professional cohesion through social activism initiatives, such as the children's agenda. This may produce more stable professional identities in the future as the role of teachers within the wider children’s workforce is clarified

Year: 2010
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