23 SES 01 D, Teacher Education Reforms
In recent years, teacher education reform has become a key focus across many developed countries (Darling-Hammond & Lieberman, 2012). Despite differing national contexts and traditions, these reforms share the underlying assumptions that teacher quality is central to student learning and that teacher education is a major factor in the improvement of teacher quality. These assumptions have been heightened by the work of the World Bank and OECD (Hanushek & Wossman, 2007). Improving teacher quality is now assumed internationally to be a central strategy for improving a nation’s ability to compete in the global economy, thereby ensuring the quality of its workforce and meeting rising social expectations in relation to diversity, poverty and equality (Cochran-Smith, 2013).
This global policy agenda and related assumptions have recently emerged in Scotland. Following a large-scale review of teacher education provision, ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ (Donaldson, 2011) was published in January 2011. It contained fifty recommendations for the improvement of teacher education in its entirety, spanning initial teacher education, career-long professional learning and leadership. Two months later, the Scottish Government formally accepted each of the recommendations and established a National Partnership Group (NPG) to plan their implementation (Scottish Government, 2011). The NPG completed their work in October 2012 and presented their own report of recommendations (Scottish Government, 2012). A National Implementation Board (NIB) was then set up and tasked with continuing the implementation of the policy agenda.
Of particular interest to the research is the composition and function of the NPG and NIB. Both partnership groups consist(ed) of representatives from key bodies and organisations in Scottish education, such as teacher associations, teaching councils, teacher unions, local government, higher education and governmental organisations. Each of these actors has a great deal of interest in the future direction of teacher education. It could therefore be suggested that these policy networks contain a strange admixture of vested interests, agendas, beliefs and values. The policy text is therefore being implemented and further developed through negotiation between key actors.
Drawing on wider theories of Democratic Network Governance (Sorenson & Torfing, 2008), this research explores the processes by which policy is implemented through governance networks. Europe has seen a gradual expansion in the governance of policy processes through networks, particularly at the level of national policy-making (Sorenson & Torfing, 2008). In the main, they are seen as effective and productive modes of governance. However, this paper will argue that their use raises important questions about power, democracy and participation in Scottish education policy-making. However, these questions are also relevant at a European level.
A second aim of the research is to explore what happens to a policy agenda as it enters and is translated by a policy network. Elements of Actor Network Theory (ANT; Fenwick & Edwards, 2010; Latour, 2005) are used to trace the recommendations as they are mediated and negotiated by actors in the policy network. The ANT translation model of change sees a policy as unfinished (, Edwards 2012; Gaskell & Hepburn, 1998). As a policy text travels through space and time, it is either ignored or taken up by actors who see their interests translated within it, thereby modifying it in some way. The extent to which it becomes distorted is therefore a direct reflection of the interests and agendas of the actors represented within the policy network. This part of the research therefore is therefore looking at three things:
1. what remains as intended;
2. what becomes distorted;
3. and, what has been silenced.
Cochran-Smith, M. (2013). Introduction: The Politics of Policy in Teacher Education: International Perspectives. The Educational Forum, 77, 3-4. Darling-Hammond, L., & Lieberman, A. (2012). Teacher Education Around the World: Changing Policies and Practices. Oxon: Routledge. Donaldson, G. (2011). Teaching Scotland’s Future. A report of a Review of teaching education in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-Network Theory in Education. Oxon: Routledge. Edwards, R. (2012). Translating the prescribed into the enacted curriculum in college and school. In T. Fenwick & R. Edwards (Eds.),. Researching education through Actor-Network Theory (pp. 23-39). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Gaskell, J., & Hepburn, G. (1998). The course as token: A construction of/by networks. Research in Science Education, 28, 65-76. Hanushek, E., & Wossmann, L. (2007). Education quality and economic growth. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Scottish Government. (2011). Continuing to Build Excellence in Teaching: The Scottish Government’s Response to ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Scottish Government. (2012). Teaching Scotland’s Future – National Partnership Group Report to Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Sorenson, E., & Torfing, J. (2008) Theories of democratic network governance. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
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