Smyth, John (1989) Supervision‐as‐school reform: A critical perspective. Journal of Education Policy, 4 (4). pp. 343-361. ISSN 0268-0939

The study reported upon in this paper examines the data from interviews with 200 American teachers from the State of Pennsylvania who had been subjected to a particular form of in‐class supervision known as the Madeline Hunter Model. Broadly representative of a range of intrusive surveillance schemes allegedly aimed at checking on efficiency and effectiveness, this process seems to have gained some pseudo‐legitimacy from the recommendations of a number of national reports on education. The data, however, reveal that this form of supervision promoted a form of ‘ritualism’ which teachers failed to take seriously; it concealed their personal and professional histories through episodic visits by outside experts; and it actively denied having a political agenda by claiming to be neutral, objective, value‐free and substantiated by findings from research on teaching. Although this research has made some useful beginnings on exploring the mediating linkage between macro‐school reforms as espoused by policymakers and in‐school forms of supervision, it still remains to be demonstrated how teachers effectively resist incursions of the kind experienced here.

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