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‘Learner-centred’ assessment policies in further education: putting teachers’ time under pressure

Bailey, Gillian and Colley, Helen (2014) ‘Learner-centred’ assessment policies in further education: putting teachers’ time under pressure. Journal of Vocational Education & Training. ISSN 1363-6820

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Since incorporation of further education (FE) in England in 1992, much research has critiqued the performative pressures on FE teachers created by a managerialist audit culture. These critiques have demonstrated the detrimental effects of the technicised delivery of learning outcomes on more learner-centred pedagogies. However, FE policies now purport to place greater emphasis on learner-centredness. In this paper, we question the meanings such policies give to this notion, and examine how they are shaping teachers’ practice. Drawing on findings from an ethnographic study of trainee and newly qualified FE teachers, we innovatively apply a social theory of time to analyse the resulting time pressures that teachers encountered. In particular, the distinction between ‘clock time’ and ‘process time’ is used as a specific lens through which to interpret the data. We argue that FE policies misappropriate and subvert the notion of learner-centredness by focusing on assessment outcomes; and that they expect teachers to devote more time to learners, but without an associated allocation of adequate time resources. As a result, there may be a danger of losing more teachers from the profession. These findings may have cross-sector relevance in schools and higher education, as well as internationally.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Schools: School of Education and Professional Development
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Depositing User: Cherry Edmunds
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2014 10:10
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2016 18:00


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