Place based teacher professional development programme

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Education


ESRC: Brittany Wright: ES/P000711/1
This project will involve devising, delivering and evaluating a place-based professional development programme for teachers. State control and influence over national curricula and school practices mean that the distinctive nature of local places is often ignored in school. Instead, teachers in many countries deliver nationally accredited curricula and, in secondary schools and further education settings, teach to examination specifications in which content and methods of assessment are both prescribed. In this way, formal education in schools can be seen as 'space-blind', with the demands of national models of teaching, learning and assessment eclipsing the needs of the local context. Furthermore, this lack of attention to the relationship between a school and the place in which it is situated, its locale, means that wider power relations are ignored. For instance, in the UK, a number of regional areas have been identified as 'left behind' by the government, due to their low performance on a range of social and economic indicators. Rather than exploring the specific nature of and reasons for this low performance, currently policy advocates exporting pedagogies and educational approaches from London in a bid to resolve these stark inequalities. Arguably, the indirect benefits of living in an urban centre, from close proximity to free cultural institutions to increased funding for schools, support educational performance in London too. Yet these wider geographic inequalities are not addressed (Department for Education, 2017). Both the UK and Canada have inequalities between regional areas and urban areas and, as a result, teachers in these rural and regional areas are often seen as less effective than their urban counterparts, despite the very different contexts in which they work.

The teacher development programme described here will put local places front and centre, teaching key research methods to teachers at Acadia University so that they can research their own local places and schools. The teachers will share their data as the programme progresses. By conducting research in this supported way, with workshops delivered to support each stage of the research process, the research skills of the teachers will be supported significantly. The final workshop will draw on the teachers' datasets and understanding of theories relating to rural literacies in order to devise a set of socially-just, place-informed pedagogies in schools. These will be diverse and responsive to the needs of each individual school and place, standing in stark contrast to typical policy responses to place-based educational inequalities.


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