Reid, James (2016) Teachers’ Experience and Consciousness of Care during a Period of ‘Notice to Improve’: An Institutional Ethnography in one Primary School. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis is based on an institutional ethnography in a primary school in the north
of England during a period of ‘notice to improve’. This regulatory status followed an
inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills
(Ofsted 2010) in which the school was judged as ‘performing less well than it might
in all the circumstances reasonably be expected to perform’. The teaching team is all
female. This study situates the teachers’ experience of ‘notice to improve’ within their
everyday practices and embodiment of ‘care’ as they enact the policy discourses that
organize their work.
The study aligns institutional ethnography with a narrative method, ‘The Listening
Guide’ (Mauthner and Doucet 1998), and a political ethic of care (Tronto 1993), to
reveal and analyse the co-ordination of social relations. Care emerged as a
problematic from the teachers’ standpoint, a disjuncture in experience, as they
activated and appropriated texts in order “to get out of” notice to improve.
Institutional ethnography (Smith 2005) explicates the ruling relations of education
policy and performative texts and how these texts are taken up and activated by
teachers in coming to care as an institutionally organized aspect of their work. As
such the study reveals the trans-local, extra-local and situated connections and coordination
of work during a time of enhanced scrutiny and accountability which give
rise to disjunctures in the teacher’s wider understanding of care. Analysis reveals an
understanding of care as political and moral and involving more than the discourses
of intimate relationships and behaviour role modelling promoted in policy and
guidance as necessary to good pupil outcomes.
The research reveals the hierarchy of textual mediation of teachers’ work and
explicates how teachers come to care through political, moral, and personal and
professional moral boundaries. This leads to concerns over pedagogical principles,
workload, stress and a wider consciousness of the teachers’ self. When behaviour
and practice is regarded as risky to pupils, the school, colleagues and self, the
recourse, through talk, is to take up the institutional discourse of quality mediated
through regulation. A key finding is that teachers’ wider care needs are silenced

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