23 SES 06 A, Curriculum Reforms and Teacher Agency
Research question and theoretical approach
Professions are described by attributes such as the possession of a scientific knowledge base gathered through extensive studies in higher education and clinical practice in the professional field, special forms of organization, specific ethical codes, collegial decision-making and autonomy over occupational practices concerning decisions about what is 'best practice' (Svensson, 2011). The above applies to so-called classical professions (like Medical practice) and semi professions (such as teaching). Things may be different for other kinds of profession: such as specifically the emergent or new professions that have actually developed during the era of New Public Management [NPM] policy and reform in question. Preschool teachers belong to this category and indeed they seem to have gained more recognition and autonomy in the recent decades rather than less. For instance there are now demands about professional legitimation in order to work as a preschool teacher and preschool teachers have been delegated greater autonomy and a broadened register of pedagogical responsibilities.
However, common for all professions is that recent policy changes in the public sector, not the least the introduction of New Public Management, has resulted in many professional occupations in the public sector being increasingly subsumed under more controlling forms of governance that subsume their professional logic under market economic and administrative rules, values and procedures (Le Grand, 2007); Liedman, 2013, Wiese & Modell, 2014).
The present paper concerns both the preschool teachers professional development and the way in which the requirements associated with NPM have an impact on this development. It also pays attention to policy changes and their implications for preschool teachers as a potentially emergent professional group in terms of their policy and practice relationship to other occupations in the education field, such as child-care workers, teachers, preschool leaders and the local educational administration. We are interested in whether and if so why preschool teachers may be an exception to the general development of de-professionalisation in the public sector.
The research presented in this paper belongs to a research project that took its point of departure from revisions to the Swedish pre-school curriculum in 2010 and the National Education Act (SFS 2010: 800) from the same year. These revisions involved both changes in the responsibility structure between staff and a clarified educational mission and responsibility in terms of professional activities. The present paper deals with issues connected to this, specifically with respect to how local governments have interpreted and implemented the revisions, and how preschool staff (preschool teachers and day care workers) describe how these responsibilities has been interpreted and carried out in the daily work at preschool.
When making sense of these issues the analysis has been informed by theories of management and professionalisation in the public sector. Rothstein's (1987, 2010) model over management alternatives in local government has been used as a way to understand and analyse how the state organize the implementation of political decisions and how this way of organization influences where the power for implementation is situated. Questions about implementation related to those who are supposed to realise the political decisions might highlight their point of view at preschool teachers as a professional group.
References Le Grand, J. (2007). The Other Invisible Hand: Delivering Public Services through Choice and Competition (Princeton University Press, Princeton). Liedman, Sven-Eric (2013). Pseudo-quantities, new public management and human judgement.Confero, 1(1), pp 45-66. Doi: 103384/confer.13v1i1a1 Rothstein, Bo (1987. Välfärdsstat, implementering och legitimitet. Statsvetenskaplig tidskrifts arkiv, (90), 1, s 21–31. Rothstein, B. (2010) Välfärdsstat, förvaltning och legitimitet. I B. Rothstein (red) Politik som organisation: förvaltningspolitikens grundproblem (4. uppl.) (s 7-30). Stockholm: SNS förlag. SFS 2010:800 (2010). Skollagen [National Education Act]. Retrieved http://www.riksdagen.se Skolverket (2011). Läroplan för förskolan Lpfö 98 [Ny rev. Utg.] [Curriculum for the preschool Lpfö 98: revised 2010]. Stockholm: Skolverket. Svensson, Lennart G. (2011). Profession, organisation, kollegialitet och ansvar. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift (4), s 301-319. Wiesel, Fredrika & Modell, Sven (2014). Financial Accountability & Management, 30(2), May 2014, 0267-4424
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