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Who am I as a teacher? The professional identity of teachers and its implications for management of the “Every Child Matters” agenda

University of Chester
Publication Date
  • Every Child Matters
  • Teacher Identity
  • Cheshire
  • Design
  • Education
  • Linguistics
  • Logic
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology


Changes within national and local government following the 2003 Every Child Matters agenda which fashioned the 2004 Children’s Act and recent 2007 Children’s Plan, is requiring professionals across children’s services, until now working in isolation, to work inter-professionally for the well-being of the child. As the fragmented discourse of service provision in England and Wales is replaced by an integrated, holistic approach, this will, it is suggested, have significant implications for all professionals working with children, young people and their families. Exploring the imperative through the lens of teachers’ professional identity, this research considers how its precepts might risk the agenda’s management and success. The research design takes constructivism as an epistemological stance and adopts a sequential mixed methods approach. Grounded within the literature of professional identity and inter-professional working, it works abductively with the data and draws upon the insights of the established socio-psychological theorising, approached from the theoretical constructs of social identity theory, also the paradigmatically divergent communities of practice and activity theory, to explore the interactions between teacher identity and current public service policy reform. Conducted with a sample of teachers from Secondary Schools from within Cheshire and Wirral (N=40), this small-scale, triangulated, empirical research maps, through survey and interviews, perceptions of teacher identity and the Every Child Matters (ECM) imperative. The data collected, both quantitative and qualitative, reveals that whilst teachers perceive their identities differently, they hold considerable strength of identity, possibly a coping mechanism as they are forced into an unfamiliar socio-cultural context. With influencing factors, especially those of gender, teaching life phase and subject taught, demonstrated to influence both perceptions of teacher identity but also their approach to the ECM agenda and inter-professionalism, this pragmatic aspect is of paramount practical importance for change interventionists. As such, this research has value in elucidating how teachers perceive their professional identity and its implications for the facilitation of inter-professionalism. Such it is hoped will be of value for Leaders/Managers in supporting teachers as they implement this change.

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