‘I am not a “good” teacher; I don’t do all their paperwork’: Teacher resistance to accountability demands in the English Skills for Life strategy



In 2000, Skills for Life, a new strategy for literacy, numeracy and
language education was introduced in England. It included new core
curricula, tough new targets for learner achievement, and significantly
increased accountability requirements for teachers and colleges. Many
teachers found aspects of this new system difficult. This paper analyses
interviews carried out with teachers in 2002 to identify the reasons underlying
their resistance. In the interviews, teachers consistently drew on a welldefined
discourse which defined ‘good’ teaching as teaching that is responsive
to the learner, negotiating teaching in response to learners’ goals and
characteristics, and flexible in the teaching moment. Resistance arose when
aspects of the centralised strategy were perceived to constrain teachers’ ability
to respond to learners in this way, being driven more by external demands
and advance planning than by responsiveness to learners. Teachers
attempted to develop strategies to maintain responsiveness while working
within the new strategy.

Full Text:



Avis, J (2005) Beyond performativity: reflections on activist professionalism and the labour process in further education. Journal of Education Policy, vol 20, no 2, 2009-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0268093052000341403

Barton, D, Ivanic, R, Appleby, Y, Hodge, R and Tusting, K (2007) Literacy, Lives and Learning. London: Routledge.

Belfiore, ME, Defoe, T, Folinsbee, S, Hunter, J and Jackson, N (2004) Reading Work: Literacies in the New Workplace, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.

Brandt, D (2001) Literacy in American Lives, Cambridge University Press, New York. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511810237

Darville, R (2002) Policy, accountability and practice in adult literacy: Sketching an institutional ethnography, in Mojab, S and McQueen, W eds, Adult Education and the Contested Terrain of Public Policy: Proceedings, Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education, University of Toronto, Toronto.

Douglas, M (1992) The Normative Debate and the Origins of Culture, in Douglas, M, ed, Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory, Routledge, London.

Farrell, L (2000) Ways of Doing, Ways of Being: Language, Education and'Working' Identities, Language and Education, vol 14, no 1, pp 18-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500780008666777

Farrell, L, Kamler, B and Threadgold, T (2000) Telling Tales out of School:Women and literacy in 'New Times', Studies in the Education of Adults, vol 32, no 1, pp 78-92.

Farrell, L (2001) The 'new word order': workplace education and the textual practice of globalisation. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, vol 9, no 1, pp 57-74. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14681360100200103

Hamilton, M (2007) Putting words in their mouths: the alignment of identities with system goals through the use of individual learning plans, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre Working Paper no. 13. Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Lancaster.

Hamilton, M and Hillier, Y (2006) Changing Faces of Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy: A Critical History, Trentham Books, Stoke on Trent.

Hull, G, ed, (1997) Changing Work, Changing Workers: CriticalPerspectives on Language, Literacy and Skills, State University of New York Press, Albany.

Iedema, R and Scheeres, H (2003) From Doing Work to Talking Work: Renegotiating Knowing, Doing, and Identity, Applied Linguistics vol 24, no 3, pp 316-337. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/applin/24.3.316

Ivanic, R, Appleby, Y, Hodge, R, Tusting K. and Barton, D (2006) Linking Learning and Everyday Life: A Social Perspective on Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Classes, National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy, London.

Jackson, N (2000) Writing Up People at Work. International Journal of Literacy and Numeracy Studies, vol 10:1and2, 5-21.

Jackson, N (2005) Adult Literacy Policy: Mind the Gap. In N. Bascia, A. Cumming, A. Datnow, K. Leithwood and D. Livingstone (Eds.), International Handbook of Educational Policy Volume 2 : 763-778. Dordrecht: Kluwer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-3201-3_40

Jeffrey, B. and Troman, G. (2004) Time for ethnography. British Educational Research Journal 30(4), 535-548. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0141192042000237220

Moser, C, ed, (1999) A Fresh Start: Improving Literacy and Numeracy. London: Department for Education and Employment.

Power, M (1994) The Audit Explosion. London: Demos.

Power, M (1997). The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shore, C and Wright, S (2000) 'Coercive accountability: the rise of auditculture in higher education', in M. Strathern (ed.) Audit Cultures: Anthropological Studies in Accountability, Ethics and the Academy. London: Routledge.

Strathern, M. (2000) Audit Cultures: Anthropological studies in accountability, ethics and the academy, London and New York: Routledge. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203449721

Troman, G (2000) Teacher stress in the low-trust society. British Journal of Sociology of Education 21(3): 331-353. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713655357

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/lns.v17i3.1396