Williams, David John (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Since the 1988 Education Reform Act and the introduction of the National Curriculum soon after, many initiatives, introduced in rapid succession by governments, with very short lead-in times, have affected primary schools. These radically altered the primary school as a working context. Headteachers were charged with the implementation of these initiatives into school contexts which are complex, fluid systems, and where interpersonal and personal-contextual relationships play an important part. The schools are part of the wider government policy context, which itself has significant effects on schools. This study investigated how the government policy-initiatives impacted on the professional ideologies and identities of eight headteachers in primary schools. This was accomplished using an innovative combination of biographical narrative and ‘activity theory’ (in the sense that Engeström’s ‘activity triangle’ is used only as a heuristic device in order to structure the biographical narrative accounts). The data generated two broad professional identities: the child-centred and the curriculum-led headteacher. In response to the government initiatives, the former tended towards 'resistance'; the latter tended towards 'compliance'. The textual analysis of the narratives reveals the detailed patterns of resistance and compliance over the twenty-year period after 1985.
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