Orr, Kevin and Simmons, Robin (2011) Restrictive Practice: The Work-Based Learning Experience of Trainee Teachers in English Further Education Colleges. Journal of Workplace Learning, 23 (4). pp. 243-257. ISSN 1366-5626

This paper focuses on the work-based learning (WBL) experience of teachers in training at further education (FE) colleges in England. These trainee teachers are initially employed by colleges as unqualified practitioners and are then expected to undergo training whilst in work; they generally attend an initial teacher education (ITE) course, usually delivered at their own college, for three hours a week over two years. As discussed more fully below, the significant difference between the experience of school teachers and FE teachers is that the initial training of the great majority of FE teachers is in-service. WBL, as illustrated by the experience of these trainee teachers, covers a spectrum from formally structured provision to relatively informal and unstructured learning (Eraut 2000; Colley et al 2003). The focus of this paper, however, reflects that of both McNally et al. (2008) and of Hoekstra et al. (2008), who studied the informal of teachers working in schools. As with this study Hoekstra et al. (p278) examined “learning that lacks systematic support explicitly organized to foster teacher learning.” Similarly, Coffield’s (2008: 7) definition of learning which “only refers to significant changes in capability, understanding, knowledge, practices, attitudes or values” informed our study, as did his view that not all learning may be considered as worthwhile or good. Using Fuller and Unwin’s (2004; 2006; 2008) work on expansive and restrictive learning environments as a reference point, and drawing on data from a small-scale qualitative research project conducted in two colleges, the paper problematises the position of FE colleges as employers and developers of their teaching staff.

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