Policy, professionals and professionalism
Political discourse that focuses on performativity and high-stakes accountability can have unintended consequences in terms of teachers’ resilience, wellbeing and perceptions of professionalism and professional identity. There needs to be a paradigm shift to responsibility from accountability. Teachers should be challenged and should feel responsible, but accountability without perceptions of control is fundamentally flawed. There needs to be a view to sustaining rather than retaining teachers and their professional identity. The person and the teacher are intertwined and teachers will need sustaining moments. Teachers must also explicitly acknowledge political discourse and the impact of policy; they need to mediate it and position themselves within it if they are to thrive. There needs to be a culture of collegiality and collaboration that supports teachers, enabling them to thrive. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) may be a useful concept in developing such a culture, but developing a mature collaborative culture is no easy task. Indeed, the challenge is to create a collaborative culture in the face of political drivers that create, ‘a culture and a mode of regulation that employs judgements, comparisons and displays as means of control, attrition and change – based on rewards and sanctions’.