ERG SES C 05, Ignite Talks
Ignite Talk Session
This presentation considers Initial Teacher Trainees’ (ITT) experiences of wellbeing and workload over their year of postgraduate training in England.
The research aimed to:
• To use photo-documentation to make an auto-ethnographic record of primary teacher trainees’ experiences of undertaking a PGCE.
• To use both photo-elicitation and photo-elicitation interviews to create an auto-ethnographic and ethnographic understanding of trainees’ perceptions of workload and their wellbeing.
• To consider some strategies to implement to support trainees well-being and workload and as a result of findings from this project to enhancement materials to support wellbeing and workload for trainees.
• To develop a system to evaluate the impact of the strategies trialled in the following academic year to support trainees’ wellbeing and workload.
Issues in relation to wellbeing and workload have been linked to mental health problems (DfE, 2017; Education Support Partnership, 2017). Over half (53%) of teachers surveyed said they had considered leaving the sector in the past two years due to pressures on their health and 45% of respondents felt they did not achieve the right balance between their home and work lives (DfE, 2017). These issues are reflected across Europe with the prevalence of stress-related illnesses increasing (European Union, 2013). The negative public perception of teaching as a career was also highlighted by the TALIS survey (OECD, 2014) which showed that less than one in three respondents believed teaching was valued as a career by society. This has a significantly negative impact on both teacher recruitment and retention within European countries (European Trade Union Committee for Education, 2008; OECD, 2014)
The issues of teacher recruitment, wellbeing and workload are currently key Department for Education priorities (DfE, 2016a, b, c; DfE, 2018, b; Foster, 2018) in England. Within the European context an additional twelve countries have been identified as having a shortage of qualified teachers (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and Turkey (European Union, 2013).
Wellbeing and workload are also recurrent and pertinent issues for Initial Teacher Training in England and across Europe (European Trade Union Committee for Education 2008; OECD, 2014). These impact specifically on the trainees at the team’s institution who serve an area of particularly high social and economic deprivation. Geographically the area where trainees at the institution both spend their teaching practices and are employed experience substantial issues in both recruiting and subsequently retaining teachers. Reports by the Independent Teacher Review Groups (DfE, 2016a, b; c) stated that all parts of the education system have a ‘role to play in reducing unnecessary tasks for teachers and school leaders’ (ACSL, 2018, p.1) including ITE providers.
Although teacher wellbeing is a key national and European issue, there is a paucity of research into teacher wellbeing in general and for trainee teachers specifically. After conducting a preliminary literature search, little current, extant research has been found on teacher trainee wellbeing.
The research is qualitative, ethnographic and utilises visual methodologies, specifically photo-documentation and photo-elicitation interviews.
This ethnographic and auto-ethnographic research utilised a visual research methodology - specifically the use of photo-elicitation and photo-elicitation interviews. It has been suggested that photo-elicitation as opposed to other methods and methodologies enable a focus on ‘information, affect and reflection’ (Rose, 2007) which were key aspects to elucidate in order to answer the research question. Photo-elicitation interviews also provided ‘detailed information on how participants see their world’ (Rose, 2007) which again was essential to ensure the research focused on trainees’ perceptions of wellbeing and workload. Photographs produced from photo-elicitation have also been suggested to offer ‘a means of sharing analysis and research findings’ (Gold, 2007) rather than imposing an analytical framework. University staff and students worked collaboratively as co-researchers in the project. Power issues in relation to staff and trainees working collaboratively, and trainees working as researchers with data from peers, may have been present and these may have affected the data coding process. Power relations were reduced as much as possible through a focus on collaboration, and the reduction of exploitation through a renegotiation of the ‘subject/object’ relationship (Oakley, 1981) though the aim of maintaining participants’ involvement as much as possible in the research process (Cresswell, 2014). Emphasis was placed on the trainees’ voice through both images and photo-elicitation interviews and with transparency in relation to the researcher’s involvement with participants. Photo-elicitation as a methodology has also been suggested to ‘promote participant agency’ and empowerment (Richard and Lahman, 2015, p.6, p.15). This process aims for ‘different takes on the topic’ as proposed by Chamberlain, Cain, Sheridan and Dupuis (2011). Usher and Scott (1996) cautioned that moving from data collection to data analysis was not a process of ‘‘reading out’ a meaning which is already there’, but rather a focus on interpreting or ‘reading into’ data and not simply ‘elucidating it by applying neutral techniques’. They continued to highlight that by applying an order to what has been collected and read by the researcher, was itself an ‘act of power’ (Usher and Scott, 1996). In this sense collaborating with trainees, rather than staff imposing their own coding and ‘order’ on the data resulted in shared interpretations which brought wider perspectives to the analysis and ameliorated some of the power issues.
The research project aims to develop an understanding of the changes to ITT trainees’ well being across the training period as impacted by course workload. The research is currently underway but once completed it will produce a visual photographic representation of trainees’ ‘journey’ throughout the course, illustrating perceptions of their well being across the year. Coding images with participants and using the photo-elicitation interview transcripts to add further detail will enable an overview of variations (both ups and downs) in trainees’ well being plotted against times at the course when workload increases (for example submission of academic work, school experience etc.). Understanding when trainees’ well being is challenged will allow amendments to course structure where possible, and the development of a range of whole group and smaller intervention strategies to support trainees in managing workload and strengthening their well being.
Association of School and College Leaders (2018). Summary of the Workload Reports. ACSL: Leicester and accessed online via: https://www.ascl.org.uk/download.60ED319F-A67F-4A83-8F6442374414FD50.html Chamberlain, K., Cain, T., Sheridan, J., & Dupuis, A. (2011). Pluralisms in qualitative research: From multiple methods to integrated methods. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 8(2), 151–169. Cresswell, J. (2014). Research Design: qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches (Fourth Edi). London: SAGE Publications. Department for Education (2016a). Eliminating unnecessary workload associated with data management: Report of the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group. London: DfE Department for Education (2016b). Eliminating unnecessary workload around planning and teaching resources: Report of the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group. London: DfE Department for Education (2016c). Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking: Report of the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group. London: DfE Department for Education (2017). Teacher Workload Survey 2016: Research Report. London: DfE and accessed online via YouGov: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/592499/TWS_2016_FINAL_Research_report_Feb_2017.pdf Department for Education (2018). Reducing Teacher Workload (policy paper). London: DfE. Accessed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-teachers-workload/reducing-teachers-workload and updated 24th July, 2018. Education Support Partnership (2017). Pressure on teachers damaging mental health and wellbeing, September 18th 2017, accessed via: https://www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk/about-us/press-centre/pressure-teachers-damaging-mental-health-and-wellbeing European Trade Union Committee for Education (2008). Teacher Education in Europe. Brussels. https://www.csee-etuce.org/images/attachments/ETUCE_PolicyPaper_en.pdf. European Union (2013). Study on Policy Measures to Improve the Attractiveness of the Teaching Profession in Europe (Volume 2). Luxembourg. https://doi.org/10.2766/41166. Foster, D. (2018). Teacher Recruitment and Retention in England. House of Commons briefing paper 7222, 4th June 2018, accessed via: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7222/CBP-7222.pdf on 5th June 2018. Gold, S. (2007). Using Photography in Studies of Immigrant Communities. In G. Stanczak (Ed.), Visual Research Methods: Image, Society and Representation (pp. 141–166). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Oakley, A. (1981). Interviewing Women. In H. Roberts (Ed.), Doing Feminist Research. London: Routledge. OECD (2014). A Teachers’ Guide to TALIS 2013. TALIS. OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264216075-en. Richard, V. and Lahman, M. (2013). Photo-elicitation: reflexivity on method, analysis, and graphic portraits. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 0(1), 3–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/1743727X.2013.843073 Rose, G. (2007). Visual Methodologies (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Usher, R. and Scott, D. (1996). The Politics of Educational Research. In R. Scott, D. & Usher (Ed.), Understanding Educational Research. London: Routledge.
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