19 SES 06, Ethnographies of Educational Policies and Social Change
In Sweden as in most other European countries the presence of a discourse of a knowledge-based-economy has meant that the policy area for Early Childhood Education has become an important issue for many governments to control. In Sweden both the National School Law (SFS 2010: 800) and the preschool curriculum (Skolverket, 2010) underwent a revision in 2010 initiated by the government. From a political point of view the revision was expected to increase the level of knowledge in compulsory school pupils by raising the educational quality in Early Childhood Education. To achieve this, the revision of the National School Law and the preschool curriculum implied both higher demands regarding quality assurance in respect to the educational activities in preschools as well as explicit demands on educational quality of the subject-related educational content. From a government point of view these demands were expected to be reached by providing preschool teachers with an expanded and clarified register of professional responsibility grounded upon their formal professional university education. Important to highlight in this context is that the main part of the teams in Swedish preschools consists of university educated preschool teachers and upper secondary educated child-care workers.
In terms of responsibility the revision meant a discursive change from the previous joint team responsibility for the educational activities to a special and increased preschool teacher responsibility for educational activities. This change can also be described in terms of a discursive hierarchisation in which the preschool teacher was given an overall educational responsibility, while the joint responsibility of teams was reduced to carrying out the everyday preschool practice. The paper deals with questions about what happened when this discursive change in the national policy documents was interpreted and implemented on a local preschool level in four different municipalities in four different preschools. More specifically the purpose is to investigate how the clarified and changed responsibility for preschool teachers was interpreted and implemented by local government officials and interpreted and implemented by the heads of the preschools, preschool teachers and child-care workers. The following questions have been addressed:
- How do the local government officials interpret, implement and support the pre-school teachers in their increased responsibility?
- How do heads, preschool teachers and child-care workers interpret and talk about the preschool teachers and the teams responsibility?
- How and in what way the national policy discourse is interpreted and implemented by heads, preschool teachers and child-care workers in the preschools every day practice?
The analysis of data has been informed by theories of professions (Brante, 2013; Freidson, 2001; Svensson, 2011) and education sociological theory (Bernstein, 1995, 2000, 2003). Theories of professions contributed to our understanding of the way government officials interpreted, implemented and supported pre-school teachers in their increased responsibility. In this we considered how their actions would support or prevent an increased professionalization. Bernstein's theoretical concepts horizontal and vertical discourse were used in the analysis of the way preschool staff interpreted and talked about the preschool teacher's and the team’s responsibility respectively. The concepts of framing and re-contextualisation contributed to our understanding of how and in what way the national policy discourse has been interpreted and implemented. Solbrekkes and Englunds (2011, 2014) concept of professional responsibility and professional accountability has been used in the analysis of what kind of responsibility is expressed.
Bernstein, B. (1995). A Response. In A.R. Sadovnik (red.) (1995). Knowledge and pedagogy: the sociology of Basil Bernstein. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex publishing corporation. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: theory, research, critique. Lanham, Md.: Rowman, & Littlefield Publishers. Bernstein, B. (2003). Class, codes and control. Vol 4:The structuring of Pedagogic Discourse. London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. Brante, T. (2013). The Professional Landscape: The Historical development of Professions in Sweden. Professions & Professionalism 3(2), 1-18. http;//dx.doi.org/10.7577/pp.558 Englund, T. & Dyrdal Solbrekke, T. (2011). Professional resopnsibility under pressure? In C. Sugrue & T. Solbrekke Dyrdal (red.) (2011). Professional responsibility: new horizons of praxis. (1. ed.) Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge Freidson, E. (2001). Professionalism. The third logic. Cambridge: Polity Press. SFS 2010:800 (2010). Skollagen [National School Law]. Retrieved http://www.riksdagen.se Skolverket (2010). Curriculum for the Preschool, Lpfö 98: revised 2010. Retriwed from www.skolverket.se Solbrekke, T. D. & Englund, T. (2011). 'Bringing professional responsibility back in'. Studies in Higher Education, 36(7), p 1-15. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2010.482205 Solbrekke, T. D. & Englund, T. (2014). Certification of Teachers: Tensions in a New Signature Reform. Professions and Professionalism, 4(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.7577/pp.668 Svensson, Lennart G. (2011). Profession, organisation, kollegialitet och ansvar. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift (4), 301-319.
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