Teachers and the Quality of Education: Why Resilience Counts Most in Testing Times

Part of the Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education book series (PROD, volume 13)


Over the last 20 years, schools in all countries have been subject to a plethora of government reforms. All of these have been designed primarily for three purposes: (i) to devolve the responsibility of governing schools from central government to the municipalities and schools themselves. Such devolution has been accompanied, however, by increased emphasis upon and accountabilities for raising standards of pupil progress and achievement as defined by central government; (ii) to re-align teacher pre-service education from what has been perceived to be an over-reliance on theory to a greater reliance upon learning through experience of school-based practice; and (iii) to provide an increased focus on equity in order to ‘narrow’ or ‘close’ the gap in achievement between pupils between from socio-economically disadvantaged communities and those from more socio-economically advantaged communities. Whilst the pace of change varies between countries, the direction is the same and is promoted through, for example, the increasing globally influential work of OECD. It is not the purpose of this chapter to analyse the reforms themselves, to support or oppose them. Academics continue to provide research results which do both! Rather, the chapter will focus upon the lives of teachers whose work takes place in the contexts of such persisting reform contexts. It will suggest that teaching itself is both intellectual and emotional work which is characterised by risk, uncertainty and vulnerability; and that reform intensive environments of externally generated change demands, may be seen as creating additional needs for reserves of individual and organizational resilience rather than necessarily resulting in teachers, even those teachers who are the most vocationally oriented and who have the greatest commitment to their work, becoming ‘victims’. To respond positively in principled ways, to bring their ‘best selves’ to their work as professionals in order to meet and mediate these challenges, ‘everyday resilience’ (Day C, Resilient leaders, resilient schools. National College for School Leadership, Nottingham, 2012; Day C, Gu Q, Resilient teachers, resilient schools: Building and sustaining quality in testing times. Routledge, London, 2014), founded on a strong sense of moral purpose, is needed.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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