, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1-23
Date: 01 Jul 2010

Schools, teachers, and curriculum change: A balancing act?

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Abstract

Educational change is a fact of life for teachers across the world, as schools are subjected to constant and ubiquitous pressures to innovate. And, yet, many school practices remain remarkably persistent in the face of such innovation. This paradox of innovation without change is perplexing for policymakers and practitioners alike. This paper investigates the gap between policy and practice, between innovation and the changes in social practices that occur in response to such innovation. It draws upon empirical data from two case studies in Scotland—schools responding to new curriculum policy—exploring contrasting approaches to the management of innovation. One is a laissez faire approach, and the other a more directive managerial strategy. Through an analytical separation of culture, structure, and agency, derived from the social theory of Margaret Archer, the paper sheds light on the social processes that accompanied innovation in these two settings demonstrating how teacher culture and differing management styles impact upon externally initiated policy.