Orr, Kevin (2011) The end of ‘strategic compliance’? Practice and professionalism in the English Further Education sector. In: Journal of Vocational Education and Training conference, 8-10 July 2011, Worcester College, Oxford. (Unpublished)

This paper engages with the evolving debate on the nature of professionalism in English Further Education (FE) by considering three longitudinal cases studies based on interviews with teachers in an FE college who gained teaching qualifications in 2006 and 2007. It considers the influences on these teachers, one in construction, one in literacy, the other in sports studies, and the context within which they work. The period of these teachers’ careers has coincided with a rhetorical emphasis on learning over teaching, made concrete in the recent architecture of colleges with large communal areas for students alongside cramped staffrooms. More significantly, their careers have coincided with a period of constant flux in the sector. The rate of policy change affecting English FE under the previous New Labour government was frenetic and this has continued with the new Coalition government’s response to the financial crisis. In a process similar to what Klein (2007) termed Shock Doctrine, this crisis has justified and enabled significant attacks on the conditions of FE teachers. Through exploring these factors and how these three particular teachers have experienced them, this paper argues that the space for professionals to defend traditional educational values through ‘strategic compliance’ with organisational change (Gleeson and Shain 1999) has become highly restricted.

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