“Precarious forms of employment”

I have found time to reply to a comment on my post about Stephen Ball’s work. Theresa raised the problems that sessional tutors sometimes find when attempting to collaborate and connect with professional development. It brought me back to my research into the participation of student teachers in the lifelong learning sector in England. The most recent campaigns by UCU concerning zero hours contracts don’t seem to be making much impact on HR processes, certainly in colleges. What follows is a review of some of the literature concerning the lifelong learning landscape, post fordism, and managerialism. I hope it helps with some of the background and context.

The landscape

Professor James Avis argued that under performance-led regimes prevalent in the FE sector (following the incorporation of FE colleges in 1993), contradictory phenomena emerge that on the one hand deny the legitimacy of some forms of professional practice, while on the other hand providing a context for new forms of ‘active ‘ professionalism (Avis 2005:212). Under the conditions faced by FE teachers characterised by accountability, ‘blame cultures’ (2005:250) and strategic compliance, both pragmatist and progressive practices can operate together. We may acknowledge here, too, the benefits of shared spaces for teachers, including social media.The resources marshalled for teachers include the development of a repertoire of professional knowledge and practice derived from repeated classroom experiences, increased confidence and frameworks by which to reflect on experience. What is often lacking however, particularly for sessional tutors is space within the institution to develop their expertise, pedagogy, and intellectual enquiry.

Allen and Henry (1997) discuss how perceived flexibility in the labour market translates into risk for those employees faced with a relationship based on contractualisation. While their research is about the contract service industry, it is their assessment of Beck’s characterisation of employment risk that might resonate with those who face ‘precarious forms of employment’ (Allen and Henry 1997:181). Both employer and employee can view their contracted labour as flexible on the one hand, and as risky and uncertain on the other, but when people work in what Beck calls ‘a risk-fraught system of employment’ (Beck 1992:143), the very constraints caused by insecurity can lead to a resourcefulness derived from individual biographies rather than collective identities.

Conversely, Avis suggests that resourcefulness can emerge from performative cultures (Lyotard 1984) that are based on Fordist industrial relations and low trust. Avis et al. (2009) invoke Giddens (1998), framing the teaching workplace as a process of reflexive modernisation ‘where restructuring has become commonplace’ and, more alarmingly still, where professionalism based on the legitimacy of pedagogical and curricular expertise has been rendered untenable and replaced with a conditional trust (Avis et al. 2009:245).

Post-Fordism

According to Brehony and Deem (2005:398), Post-Fordism is defined as the ‘decentralization, flexibility and the widespread use of [computer] technology in organisations’. Flexibility and willingness to undergo CPD are features of a post-Fordist interpretation of recent developments in the LLS since incorporation, as are customization, autonomy and accountability. Its use has become subsumed with ‘the knowledge economy’ and the ‘learning organisation’, yet aspects of the definition sit less well with current practices, one being the assumption of the worker having a sense of autonomy and being able to shape the identity of their organisation. This may be because of the confluence of post-Fordist principles with those of managerialism in the LLS.

Managerialism

Randle and Brady (1997) provide a list of characteristics of what they term new managerialism, such as strict financial management, devolved budgetary controls, efficiency, productivity, performance indicators, consumerism, accountability, flexibility of the workforce and the ‘right to manage’. For them, these characteristics set post-incorporated FE colleges in the mid 1990s in direct opposition to lecturers and academics who predicted a loss of professionalism as a result of the changes to the command and control of their duties and responsibilities (Hayes 2003). They argued that managerialism, as a paradigm, was incompatible with professionalism (1997), and that the limitations of professional control needed to be addressed through collective action. O’Leary (2013) argues that it represents a range of private sector inspired management techniques used as a template to improve productivity, performance and accountability. Ball (1990) and Enteman (1993) provide reductionist definitions where bureaucratic society is replaced and becomes a function of the sum of the application of organisational practices. In particular, Enteman argues that
The relationship between managerialism and the LLS is illustrated well by Pusey (1991:22), albeit from an Australian perspective, arguing that:

There can be no quarrel with the notion of efficiency as such. The inherent problem lies instead at another level – with the criteria that define what count as costs and benefits; with the loss of social intelligence; and with the number and range of potentially constructive discourses that have been suppressed.

If we accept this portrayal of the landscape for the lifelong learning workforce then we could ask 3 questions:
Who benefits?
So what?
What next?

I would be grateful for your thoughts.

References

Allen, J. and Henry, N. (1997) ‘Ulrich Beck’s Risk society at work: labour and employment in the contract service industries’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2 (2), pp.180-196.

Avis, J. (2005) Beyond Performativity: reflections on activist professionalism and the labour process in further education. Journal of Educational Policy. 20(2), pp.209-222.

Avis, J., Fisher, R., and Simmons, R. (eds.) (2009) Issues in Post-Compulsory Education and Training: Critical Perspectives. Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield Press.

Ball, S. (1990) Politics and policy making in education: explorations in policy sociology. Oxon: Routledge.

Ball, S.J. (2008) The Education Debate. Bristol: Policy Press.

Brehony, K.J. and Deem, R. (2005) Challenging the post-fordist/flexible organization thesis: The case of reformed educational organizations. British Journal of Sociology of Education. 26 (3), pp.395-414.

Enteman, W.F. (1993) Managerialism: The Emergence of a New Ideology. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.

Giddens, A. (1998) The Third Way. The Renewal of Social Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hayes, D. (2003) New labour, New Professionalism. In: Satterthwaite, J., Atkinson, E., and Gale, K. (eds.) Discourse, Power, Resistance: Challenging the rhetoric of contemporary education. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books, pp.28-42.

Lyotard, J.F. (1984) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

O’Leary, M. (2013) Surveillance, performativity and normalised practice: the use and impact of graded lesson observations in Further Education Colleges. Journal of Further and Higher Education. 37(5), pp.694-714.

Pusey, M., (1991) Economic Rationalism in Canberra: A Nation-Building State Changes its Mind. Cambridge University Press: Melbourne.

Randle, K. & Brady, N. (1997) Managerialism and Professionalism in the Cinderella Service. Journal of Vocational Education and Training. 49 (1), pp.121-139.

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Education, justice and democracy – Stephen Ball

Stephen Ball calls for a new kind of teacher and a new form of professionalism built on collaboration and cooperative action. It is posted by BERA’s blog: http://berarespectingchildren.wordpress.com and is an edited extract from Professor Stephen Ball’s report for CLASS, the Centre for Labour and Social studies, which was published in September 2013.

Please follow the link to the BERA site here for the full post:

Education, justice and democracy: the struggle over ignorance and opportunity.

I have included some of Ball’s work in my PhD thesis, particularly his use of the word ‘performativity’. First used by Lyotard (1984), Ball defines it as:

a technology, a culture and a mode of regulation that employs judgements, comparisons and displays as means of incentive, control, attrition and change based on rewards and sanctions (both material and symbolic). (2003:216)

The use of the word performativity links hegemonic practices with industrial models to achieve measurable efficiency, resulting in a culture that:

requires individual practitioners to organise themselves as a response to targets, indicators and evaluations, to set aside personal beliefs and commitments and live an existence of calculation’. (2003:215)

Lucas (2007) describes the learning environment for student teachers within the lifelong learning sector as both ‘expansive’ and ‘restrictive’. He describes an expansive learning environment as a place where there are opportunities to engage in

multiple communities of practice at and beyond the workplace, access to a multidimensional approach to the acquisition of expertise, and the opportunity to pursue knowledge-based courses and qualifications. (2007:99)

Although there are opportunities for teachers in the lifelong learning sector to collaborate and co-operate more commonly they are located within small teams. The effect of this restrictive environment can be uncertainty, resistance to risk taking, and lack of confidence in their professional knowledge and practice. Moreover, in the case of student teachers there are also restrictions placed by a teacher education curriculum that has been part of a state apparatus transferring largely uncontroversial professional standards (Simmons and Thompson 2007). While the standards referred to by Simmons and Thompson were the FENTO standards, their replacement, the LLUK New Overarching Professional Standards (LLUK 2006) continued (until their revocation in 2013) continued to restrict student teachers to a set of criteria aimed at experienced teachers (Crawley 2012). Furthermore Ellis (2010), referring to schoolteacher education, sees the landscape of teacher education as a process of acculturation to the

existing practices of the setting with an emphasis on the reproduction of routinised behaviours and the development of bureaucratic virtues such as compliance and the collection of evidence. (2010:106)

I do hope that the Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers in England will inspire those of us working with teachers and in the lifelong learning sector to join the projects for democracy and community building, and certainly it is teacher educators who can inculcate the products and processes of collaboration and co-operative action through the initial teacher education curriculum.

 

 

VOICE: Audio feedback

In the absence of anything sensible from me on this topic – read what my lovely colleague @annmwinter says about her experiences of giving audio feedback. It coincides with me listening to  BBC Radio 4’s  Digital Human Series 5, Voice   http://bbc.in/1g6vqtZ

Click on the link below for Ann’s post.

VOICE: Audio feedback.

Meeting OfSTED: The Game has Changed.

teacherhead

Left to right: @TomBennett71; @LearningSpy; @ClerkToGovernor; Mike Cladingbowl; @headguruteacher & @TeacherToolkit (18.2.14) Left to right: @TomBennett71; @LearningSpy; @ClerkToGovernor; Mike Cladingbowl; @headguruteacher & @TeacherToolkit (18.2.14)

This post follows on from the excellent accounts from David Didau (@LearningSpy)  and Ross McGill (@TeacherToolkit) about our meeting with Mike Cladingbowl at OfSTED HQ on Tuesday this week.

For me, this was the second time I’d met Mike Cladingbowl, OfSTED’s Head of Schools,  within a few days, following the Headteachers’ Roundtable meeting with Michael Gove and Sir Michael Wilshaw as reported here:

The Headteachers' Roundtable Meeting. Click to follow the link. The Headteachers’ Roundtable Meeting. Click to follow the link.

The Headteachers’ Roundtable meeting at the DFE emerged out of discussions with Michael Gove last summer; it was something we’d been working towards for months.  The meeting at OfSTED was entirely different.  Two weeks ago I received an email from the OfSTED communications team inviting me to the meeting on the basis of ideas I’ve expressed on this blog.  Evidently, there is a recognition at…

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Always Evidence-Based Practice. Or Not?

Always Evidence-Based Practice. Or Not?.

Aporia……lost in transition

Some thoughts from my newest twitter friend Ann. I need to do some reading!!

annie's blogette

It was my twitter mentor, @alisoniredale. Unknowingly, she was the catalyst that caused my growing sense of confusion, panic and considerable disorientation. Just imagine, there I was playing with and enjoying twitter, feeling a little more comfortable in my solitary play mode, see January blog. When, suddenly and unexpectedly I realise that I’m engaging in a conversation. Questions were posed, but who to? I immediately felt unsure, a little confused.

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Throwing Baby out with the Bathwater

Throwing Baby out with the Bathwater.

Via my great twitter friend Lou Mycroft!!

Possibilities and probabilities of digital literacies

Thanks to Azumah for these thoughts on digital literacies.

woman-in-flight

I like this questioning Ann Walker, WEA Digital Literacies – Essential or Desirable. In a spirit of open discussion, I would offer a variation – Digital Literacies: possible or probable.

That is, there are those who live their lives on-line. They slip between screen and paper with unconscious ease and find the idea of sitting and playing a game of scrabble – a physical game, using an actual board and tiles, not a computer  – to be something of a novelty. It is not unusual, for some, to visit tiny tucked away villages in northern Ghana without leaving their study. They regularly read and discuss with friends in Accra the ins and outs West African politics as reported on the front page of the national newspapers.

For the digital haves the literacies they involve are endless with possibilities. There is no aspect of their lives that does not involve some…

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Blogs for the Week Ending 30th August 2013

Attempts to educate teachers

I am grateful to HarryWebb (@webofsubstance ) for this insightful review and commentary. For the original article see:

Attempts to educate teachers.