«LEARNING TO TEACH PHYSICAL EDUCATION IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS: THE INFLUENCE OF DISPOSITIONS AND EXTERNAL STRUCTURES ON PRACTICE by Ian Pickup, BA (QTS) A ...»
Whilst primary PEITT has been criticised, concerns have also been raised about the quality and approach to CPD in primary PE (Armour & Yelling, 2002, 2003, 2004a, 2004b; Armour & Duncombe, 2004; Mawer & Head-Rapson, 1987; HMI, 2001, CCPR/NAHT, 1992; Harris et al., 2011). As a consequence, there is a growing realisation that significant steps are required if qualified teachers’ management and pedagogy skills are to be developed to make a consistent impact on children’s learning in PE. Armour and Duncombe (2004) provide accounts of in-service primary teachers’ needs for CPD in PE, highlighting the paucity of ITT in terms of quality and quantity. This too has a detrimental and perpetuating effect on trainee teachers’ experiences during school based elements of ITT where trainees work alongside class teachers and mentors who may themselves be lacking in confidence or experience in PE.
Social policy and future curriculum developments Although this chapter has focused on government-led policies that have impacted directly on the experiences of teachers and those training to be teachers, it is possible that other recent initiatives and social policies have reinvigorated a holistic view of education. This further complicates the context within which trainee primary teachers train, in that mixed messages are presented regarding the relative importance of subject knowledge versus child development, or the role of the teacher in improving attainment in maths and English versus planning creative and enjoyable lessons. For example, the Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) agenda, and Children’s Plan (DCFS, 2007), appear more developmentally concerned than prevailing curriculum frameworks and show concern for the individual learner, for activity and discovery and for curriculum integration (Surgue, 1998). In 2004, a review of the primary national curriculum was launched, with discussion centring on a return, at least in part, to a more holistic view of teaching and learning with an emphasis on cross curricular approaches.
Since the election of a coalition government in 2010, a new review of the national curriculum has been launched. This, importantly for this thesis, suggests a heightened place of importance for PE as a ‘core aspect of learning’, although what this will actually look like remains uncertain at the time of writing.
Such policies add to the range of contextual factors at play within teacher socialisation and provide additional reference points for each trainee teacher and her/his school based mentors during ITT. Troman, Jeffrey and Raggl (2007) point to the ascendancy of creativity within national education policy, evidenced by QCA documents (QCA, 2005) and the Primary National Strategy (PNS) (DfES, 2003b) which called for a rich, varied and exciting curriculum. The government generated document Excellence and Enjoyment (DfES, 2003b) aimed to increase creativity in teaching to enhance motivation and commitment of teachers and pupils alike. The school inspection framework has also been re-vamped (Ofsted, 2007)to include a focus on school self-evaluation, and the importance of national testing at Key Stage 1 has also been reduced. Wider social policy has seen a focus on social change through the empowerment of local communities; for example, Sure Start (DfES, 2002) attempts to guarantee effective pre-school education in disadvantaged areas. The role of school teachers and other professionals (social workers and healthcare practitioners) have also become more closely aligned.
The resultant context and implications for trainees Government strategies for ITT have centred on two themes - the defining of centrally imposed standards for QTS and an insistence on a wider range of training provision. The traditional providers of ITT, the universities, had previously been synonymous with the development of individual knowledge and professional responsibility, at odds with the Government’s apparent desire for central control and decision making (Hoyle & John, 1995). When examined in relation to teacher identity, it has been suggested that the restructuring of ITT to a partnership model centred on schools was preceded by a period of consistency and stability (Woods & Jeffrey, 2002) and that the changes have led to a loss of elementary trust and challenges to teacher identity. This is highly relevant to this study and raises numerous issues regarding risk of dissonance between university courses and experiences in school. The relationship between university and school placements is not simply an interface between theory and practice, but a possible site of tension and struggle between identity and official expectations. The relative experiences and beliefs of trainee teachers, mentors and class teachers are foregrounded and differences in personal experiences, values and beliefs across the group of colleagues and trainees are highlighted. It is this context, further clouded by changing and emerging policies, that provides considerable scope for investigating the process of becoming a teacher of primary PE. In addition, such changes have seen new and expanded demands placed on practising teachers within the ITT process, to include the role of teachers as mentors. As a consequence of these developments, there has been an increase in the number of professionals working in support of trainee teachers, leading to what is seen by some as a problem of ‘quality control’, with a reported wide variance in levels and quality of support received by trainees in school settings (e.g. McIntyre, 1997). These concerns have expressed in relation to all ITT, yet it appears that there is significant potential for quality control in primary PE to be problematic. There has been a reported difficulty in ensuring that all teacher mentors receive sufficient training and that the training of teachers in schools is perceived by some to be a largely routine, additional burden (Furlong, 2000; Williams & Soares, 2000). In some cases, trainees themselves are treated primarily as useful additional resources in the classroom.
Mentors with trainee teachers in their classrooms are considered to have increased opportunity to undertake other work in school, and are regularly absent from the classroom (Brooks, Barker & Swatton, 1997). McIntyre (1997) observes that some trainee teachers may be inadvertently neglected in school settings and that it is difficult to ensure high levels of student support throughout the whole ITT cycle (Burn, Hagger & Mutton, 2003), despite formal expectations that training providers do so (ITT requirements, see appendix 3).
Rushton (2001), however, recognises the importance of school based experiences in developing appropriate technical, social and cultural knowledge; there is considerable potential for poorly mentored practice to have a constraining effect on the development of the trainee teacher. This would seem to be particularly the case where the trainee also lacks confidence and/or subject knowledge. Wood (2000) suggests that the emphasis on schoolbased practice at the expense of university based teacher education may lead to an impoverished mode of training, linked by some to ‘performativity’ (Lyotard, 1984; Ball, 2001;
Avis, 2005). Within this conceptualisation it is perceived as possible for trainee teachers to be judged as satisfactory against the QTS standards, without a high level of understanding of the
teaching and learning process. Ball (2001) suggests that performativity is:
A technology, a culture and mode of regulation, or even a system of terror…that employs judgements, comparisons, and displays means of control, attrition and change. The performances of – individual subjects or organisations - serve as measures of productivity or output, or displays of quality, or moments of promotion or inspection. They stand for, encapsulate or represent the worth, quality or value of an individual or organisation within a field of judgement (p.
Performativity is therefore seen as a discourse of power, centred on accountability and competition (Lyotard, 1984), a discourse which Ball (2001) argues has an impact on how new social identities are created. In this way, it has been argued that shifts in central policy towards increased government control go beyond the introduction of frameworks, templates and guidelines and cut to the heart of emerging teacher identity and development. The process of becoming a teacher has therefore be seen as empowering and productive, or destructive, particularly by those who suggest that central policy has resulted in a struggle over the ‘soul of the profession’ (Hanlon, 1998). Performativity, as conceptualized by Ball, not only concerns the introduction of standards for teachers wishing to gain QTS, it is about a wider approach to the management of the professions. The introduction of centrally dictated standards, performance targets, a school inspection regime and routine requirements for record keeping on a day to day basis in school can be viewed within a wider framework of performance management. It is thought that such requirements of performativity may result in previous levels of commitment, judgement and authenticity being sacrificed for impression and performance, although the impact of such changes on individual trainee teachers in school placement is less well understood (Ball, 1999).
Summary This chapter has highlighted the ever changing government led context within which primary schools and those training to become primary school teachers are situated. The historical context demonstrates the constantly shifting requirements with which providers of ITT, schools and trainees alike have been faced and which place conditions on the lived experiences of all those involved in primary teacher development. The impact seen in schools, curricula, the teaching workforce, and in universities over a twenty year period has been considerable, and a period of stability appears unlikely. The control of the teaching profession has been a key focus for successive governments. Central to the evident changes has been the broadening of routes to becoming a qualified teacher alongside the evolution of a defined set of professional standards. During recent years, some subjects, through the evolution of a NC and the development of subject strategies, have been afforded heightened importance within schools and ITT. Such contextual and policy changes are thought to influence the socialisation of teachers, although the precise way in which such contextual factors interact with individual trainee beliefs and values in relation to PE is not known. Whilst government policies and strategies have appeared and disappeared over time, a number of writers and researchers have continued to point to the need for improvements in the subject at this level. This would suggest that the structures imposed on schools, teachers and ITT providers by the government cannot alone account for the range of PE practice seen. Despite this, few studies have been conducted which shed light on all phenomena at large, or which provide practical, considered and fully contextualised solutions. This chapter has provided a contextual backcloth for the investigation and provided insights to aid research design and the formulation of research questions. In particular, research questions 2 and 3 have been set in relation to this contextual
Given the context of primary ITT, what ‘possibilities of action’ are evident to trainee primary teachers during PEITT?
How does primary ITT currently impact on the development of trainee primary teachers as teachers of PE and how can provision be developed to better support trainee primary teachers in this regard?
The following chapter explores theoretical approaches to teacher development, identity and learning, placing primary PE within this wider field of critical literature. It is hoped that by doing so, possible solutions to the issues raised so far can be identified and the research designed to take full account of what is known to date. Whilst this chapter has focused on policies and frameworks, attention now shifts to the individual trainee factors which may also
impact on emerging practice, and which are directly relevant to the first research question:
What are the dispositions of trainee primary teachers in relation to PE and how are these dispositions animated by the properties and processes of ITT?
Introduction Chapter 2 discussed the socio historical and policy contexts within which the trainee primary teachers in this study are striving to become qualified teachers. This chapter examines theories of teacher development and explores the relationship between these theories, individual trainees and this prevailing context. The literature pertaining to primary PE suggests that primary trainees are underprepared, lacking in confidence to teach PE and that they are characterised by negative dispositions towards the subject. This chapter links such claims to issues of teacher identity and professional learning and explores this in relation to the policy context discussed earlier. The methodological approach subsequently outlined in chapter 4, together with the research aims and questions introduced at the beginning of this thesis have necessitated such an exploration in consideration of what is currently understood in relation to the development of trainee primary teachers as teachers of PE.
The processes which comprise the dynamic between trainee teachers, universities, primary schools, communities of staff and government policies are central themes in the literature relating to the development of teacher identity. In particular, the relationship between trainee teachers’ dispositions and externally created conceptions of knowledge and learning (as presented in government policy and curricula, by university tutors and colleagues and peers in school) is a central theme for discussion. Different conceptualisations of ‘knowledge’ and ‘learning’ are relevant to the research aims and an understanding of the ways in which these are framed in schools, universities, by centrally governed policies and by individual teachers is necessary to better understand the factors at work in relation to primary PE. Teacher development theorists agree that the process of becoming a teacher is complex and that the dynamic relationship between individual trainees and the ITT structure is a key influencing factor on practice. During ITT, individuals are faced with learning a multifaceted craft in
demanding circumstances (Burn, Hagger & Mutton, 2003). Learning how to teach is: