Woodhouse, Fiona (2009) Selecting potential teachers-gatekeepers and gut feelings. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

One route to becoming a qualified teacher in England is to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. The first obstacle for these potential teachers is to be successfully selected onto a course. The potential teachers need to possess the appropriate personal and intellectual qualities required to become teachers. This study has sought to uncover how the gatekeepers to the teaching profession- the
subject tutors and practising teachers involved in the selection process make the decisions as to whether a potential teacher has these appropriate personal qualities.

The study considered what the potential teachers own construct of a teacher was, as they arrived for the selection interview. It explored what the practising teachers and subject tutors consider as appropriate qualities for these potential teachers.

This research used grounded theory as the methodology for exploring how these potential teachers are selected onto an Initial Teacher Education programme.

The analysis of the research has led to five emerging themes and a possible model to illustrate how the subject tutors and teachers select these potential teachers. The research highlights that the subject tutor interviews are semi structured in nature. It suggests that subject tutors expect these potential teachers to exhibit some evidence of six groups of ‘qualities’. These include; personal qualities (including the ability to reflect on their own development), subject knowledge for teaching, enthusiasm for the subject, experiences of observing or working with pupils, some knowledge of schools settings and some knowledge of the teaching profession. The practising teachers similarly expect potential teachers to have, personal qualities, vocational qualities, some knowledge of their subject and some knowledge of teaching. The research suggests that there is congruence between what the gatekeepers to the
teaching profession often refer to as their ‘gut feelings’ about the potential teachers and the qualities referred to in research studies. This may give the gatekeepers greater confidence that their professional judgements are secure, and that ‘gut feelings’ masquerading as professional judgment can be relied upon!

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