CONFERENCE

DPR6: Talking Truth to Power

25– 27 March 2007
Manchester Metropolitan University , UK

ABSTRACTS

Ron  Thompson
School of Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield, UK

Robin  Simmons
School of Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield, UK

Cinderella's shoes: gender, autonomy and control in post-compulsory teacher education

Post-compulsory education in England has increasingly been brought under state control and direction, with profound consequences for those engaged in the professional development of teachers in the sector. Teacher educators are now positioned as agents of a discourse of state control in re-shaping and re-focusing the practice of the Learning and Skills workforce. Recent research into post-compulsory teacher educators in England suggests that there is an increasing feminisation of this workforce, particularly where FE/HE partnerships are concerned. This paper uncovers the locus of power which drives the increasingly gendered division of labour and attempts to account for it by means of the intersection of structuralist and post-structuralist perspectives.

Arguably, feminisation arises as a result of deep-seated changes in the organisation, direction and funding of post-compulsory education which has resulted in increasing degradation of the status of teaching in the sector. It is therefore associated with worsened conditions of employment for teacher educators, inappropriate recruitment procedures and codified modes of working. However, the paper rejects the exclusive use of a deterministic, purely structuralist perspective and considers the lived experience of women in FE. For individual women entering or engaged in teacher education, there is a complex interplay between constructions of feminine identity, familial roles and sacrifices in terms of professional autonomy and conditions of service.

The paper argues that the trends taking place in the teacher educator workforce can only be understood through situating the subjective identities of teacher educators within the policy and discourse of current government priorities.