Initial teacher education in the panopticon

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of California Santa Cruz]On: 22 October 2014, At: 18:50Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Education for Teaching:International research and pedagogyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjet20

    Initial teacher education in thepanopticonChris Wilkins a & Phil Wood aa University of Leicester , UKPublished online: 19 Aug 2009.

    To cite this article: Chris Wilkins & Phil Wood (2009) Initial teacher education in the panopticon,Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy, 35:3, 283-297

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02607470903092821

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  • Journal of Education for TeachingVol. 35, No. 3, August 2009, 283297

    ISSN 0260-7476 print/ISSN 1360-0540 online 2009 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/02607470903092821http://www.informaworld.com

    Initial teacher education in the panopticon

    Chris Wilkins* and Phil Wood

    University of Leicester, UK

    Taylor and FrancisCJET_A_409455.sgm(Received 1 August 2008; final version received 8 April 2009)10.1080/02607470903092821Journal of Education for Teaching0260-7476 (print)/1360-0540 (online)Original Article2009Taylor & Francis353000000August 2009ChrisWilkinscaw11@leicester.ac.uk

    The schools inspection regime in England has shifted in recent decades from afocus on external assessment of practice to a scrutiny of external data and schoolsself-evaluation, culminating in a normative system based on self-surveillance byschool senior managers. This model of inspection (characteristic of theperformative approach to public sector accountability) is now being extended toproviders of initial teacher education, with providers using a standardised self-evaluation template. A qualitative analysis of this template demonstrates itsattempt to normalise and manage the development of initial teacher educationprogrammes in order that they reflect political priorities rather than being basedprimarily on the professional knowledge and judgements. Further, the potential fora conflict of interests between the government agencies responsible for deliveryand inspection is considered.

    Keywords: teacher education; inspection; accountability; performativity

    Introduction

    The past two decades has seen a well-documented revolution in the management ofpublic sector services, not just in the UK, but globally (Mahony and Hextall 2000),with two related developments emerging. The first of these has been the increasedmarketisation of service delivery, with the second being the growth of an auditculture in which performance is rigorously measured against externally-determinedtargets. It is this second development that we examine here in the specific context ofthe work of teachers and teacher educators in England, by tracing the changing waysin which their performance is regulated and inspected. Since the early 1990s, inspec-tion has been transformed from the relatively collegial regime of assessment/guidanceof experts and peers (Her Majestys Inspectors/Local Authority advisory teams) viaa relatively short period of intensive inspection (and sanctioning of underperformingschools) by external state agencies (Ofsted, the English school inspectorate), into amodel in which the inspectocracy has withdrawn to the role of overseer whilst theprofession polices itself. We examine the implications of this self-policing, which,despite being located in a discourse of self-evaluation and constructive inter-profes-sional dialogue, has replaced teachers fear of the triennial Ofsted visitation with thepermanent presence of the mechanisms of surveillance within the school itself(Troman 1997). This is a particularly significant discussion because it takes place asa new inspection methodology for initial teacher education (ITE)1 is being introducedwhich largely replicates the self-surveillance methodology applied to schools.

    *Corresponding author. Email: caw11@leicester.ac.uk

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  • 284 C. Wilkins and P. Wood

    The value of data-driven auditing of the performance of professionals is frequentlyportrayed incontestable, the common sense voice of the people in a consumerdemocracy in which critical perspectives can be portrayed as backwards-looking andobstructive (Mahony and Hextall 1997). However, whilst being lauded by governmentministers as increasing accountability and the quality of service delivery, this policyhas caused growing concern in public sector professions because of a perceivedcoercive instrumentalism. These concerns have been reinforced by researchevidence (often gathered by government agencies themselves) about the negativeimpact of the audit culture. Examples from education include a narrowing of thecurriculum (QCA 2001), decreasing pupil motivation (Harlen and Deakin Crick 2002)schools malpractice in respect of GCSE course work (QCA 2005) and a riskaverse culture of conformity developing in the teaching profession (Hayes 2001;Robinson 2005). This paper explores some factors that may contribute to these nega-tive outcomes, and concludes by discussing the possible implications of the presentdrive to complete the circle of education self-surveillance via the inspection of ITE.

    Opening up the secret garden

    The period from the 1950s to the 1970s saw the development in the UK of a strongteachers professional culture and the active promotion of theories of learning andteaching set within a broad consensus about the purposes of school and the mosteffective ways of fulfilling these purposes. Schooling was increasingly portrayed asan empowering, egalitarian process, raising aspirations as well as attainment andcontributing to a progressive social agenda, exemplified by the move to comprehen-sive schools at secondary level, the growth of child-centred teaching strategies andthe increased attention given to addressing issues of social justice within both schoolorganisation and curriculum content. These developments coincided with the estab-lishment of teaching as a graduate-only profession in the late 1960s and the growth ofa powerful teachers union movement.

    The first signs of a significant challenge to the progressive consensus came withthe publication of the polemically neo-conservative Black Papers (Cox and Dyson1969), but the key turning point was Prime Minister James Callaghans RuskinCollege speech in 1976, which opened up the secret garden of the teaching profes-sion. This brought the politics of schooling into the political spotlight, preparing theground for a conservative renewal in educational discourse following the election ofthe Conservative government in 1979. The development of comprehensive schools,child-centred teaching and the acknowledgement of social issues in the curriculumwere portrayed as leftwing indoctrination (Hillgate Group 1986; Palmer 1986) anda succession of neo-liberal and neo-conservative policies were put in place, designedto expose state schooling to the forces of the market (e.g. the devolution of aspects ofmanagement, including budgetary ones, to school level) and to rein in the autonomyof the teaching profession (Furlong 2005, 122). Teacher education was the focus ofparticular attention from the radical right for its perceived left-wing bias (Hill 1990;Demaine 1995), paving the way for the confrontational relationship between govern-ments and teacher educators throughout the 1990s.

    This shift in political climate led eventually to the introduction of the NationalCurriculum in 1990; whilst this simply prescribed what should be taught, the literacyand numeracy strategies that followed towards the end of the decade increased the

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  • Journal of Education for Teaching 285

    degree of prescription by specifying how it should be taught, a trend that has continuedsince then (for example, the active engagement of government ministers at thesupremely micro level of how primary schools teach reading through synthetic phon-ics). With the school curriculum in place, a quasi-curriculum for initial teachereducation (ITE) could be introduced with the establishment of the Teacher TrainingAgency (TTA). Initial teacher education was re-branded as initial teacher training,reinforcing the shift in emphasis to learning in higher education to training in theclassroom; in its early days the TTA appeared ideologically wedded to the notion thatthe balance of power should move away from universities and towards schools, astance characterised by a faintly disguised distrust of the educational establishmentin university education departments (Gilroy 1998, 1999). This increased emphasis ontraining in the craft skills of teaching has been a key driver in defining teacher iden-tity as less a response to inculcation into a professional culture and values (Bourdieushabitus) than to externally-regulated instrumentalism (Leaton Gray 2006). Oncecurriculum control in both schools and ITE was in place, the mechanism for inspectingthem could follow, and in 1993, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) wasestablished to take over the role of inspection of schools and ITE.

    The rise of performativity

    The management and assessment of schools via the audit culture, together with theirexposure to market forces, can be viewed as a characteristic example of performativ-ity (Turner-Bisset 2007). Ball defines performativity as a mode of regulation in whichjudgements about individuals/organizations are measured by displays of quality,or moments of promotion or inspection (Ball 2003, 216). Entwined with widernotions of market efficiency, performativity necessitates the use of multiple tiers ofauditing, from individual to school and local authority level. This has not been theresult of a single initiative; rather it has developed through a succession of policyreforms promoting a culture of hyper-accountability, with schools being increasinglydriven by targets where success indicators are determined by political imperativesrather than professional judgements (Mansell 2007). These reforms have not only beenwide-ranging, but ideologically paradoxical, comprising as they do of a blend of neo-liberal commitments to the market and a supposedly weak state [with] neo-conser-vative emphases on stronger control over curricula and values (Apple 2005, 11).

    The justification for these reforms has been that not only do they raise the qualityof service outcomes but that they lead to greater professional status and autonomy.However, some have argued that the neo-liberal project of public sector reforms ledto what Du Gay (1996) calls controlled de-control, where teacher self-regulationbecomes the norm. Inglis (2000) argues such self-regulation is a form of neo-Foucaul-dianism which:

    has dominated the human sciences for a couple of decades because the great man canbe enlisted in a theory of the totalitarianism of the modern state, achieved largely by itscapacity so to order and generate fields of language that discourse itself coerces allconduct, and men and women everywhere in chains forged by linguistic legislation.(Inglis 2000, 423)

    Adopting the language of the market, efficiency and effectiveness have becomecentral tenets of the new educational landscape, further reinforcing the importance of

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  • 286 C. Wilkins and P. Wood

    accountability. Poulson (1998) sees accountability in education as being ambiguous;it can be viewed as being self-regulatory, enshrined in teachers responsibility tostudents, parents and colleagues, but this view has been largely downplayed in favourof externally imposed accountability through contract, testing and inspection, legiti-mised accountability as a legal necessity rather than a moral obligation (Inglis 2000).As Ball (2008) notes, this appeal to pragmatism is embedded into the third wayideology of the Labour government of Tony Blair elected in 1997, the what worksideology of the third way presented as beyond politics (150). This techno-rationalist argument was signalled in advance of his election by Blair when, on thetwentieth anniversary of James Callaghans Ruskin speech, he stated that hiseducation reforms would be practical not ideological (Blair 1996).

    Since 1997, the pace at which the audit culture has become embedded into educa-tion has continued, not just in the UK but globally (Moon 2003), with ever more sophis-ticated means of measuring the performance of schools and teachers put into place, atall times supplemented by increasing marketisation (e.g., the introduction of parentalchoice in allocation of school places was set alongside the publication of pupil attain-ment league tables, with the clear expectation that the latter provided appropriateconsumer information to enable meaningful use of the former). In ITE, the exposureto market forces has been even more marked, with the active promotion of a mixedeconomy in the production of the teaching workforce (Furlong 2005). This processbegan in the early 1990s when moves to develop models of partnership emphasisingcompetency-based training rather than theoretically-driven education coincided withan increased emphasis on the role of mentorship by experienced classroom practitio-ners, particularl...

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