The New Professionalism: An Exploration of Vocational Education and Training Teachers in England

  • James AvisEmail author
  • Kevin Orr
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


In the current conjuncture important themes surrounding models of professional learning are those that stress the significance of practice-based workplace learning as well as the salience of on-going CPD. There is some articulation between this work and conceptualisations of a new professionalism that seeks to overcome the ‘elitism’ of earlier forms. There is also a link with a critique of impoverished conceptualisations of professionalism rooted within audit, performativity and standards. These newer forms seek to develop models of accountability that engage with the broader community and are characterised by democratic relations. Notions such as dialogic and ecological, or indeed models of preferred professionalism capture these ideas, as do discussions of hybrid inter-professionalism. The chapter interrogates these notions together with their significance for conceptualisations of professional learning. In addition it problematises conceptualisations of the ‘new’ professionalism. It could be argued Thatcherism interrupted all sorts of radical projects, amongst which were those orientated towards the development of emancipatory and dialogic models of teacher practice. These practices could be construed as embodying forms of dialogic and collective professional learning, that in some ways anticipated current debates. The chapter concludes by arguing that these approaches can only take us so far and that they need to be aligned to a radical transformative politics to fulfil their potential. For without such a stance they can easily be appropriated by forms of conservative modernisation.


Vocational education and training Professionalism Learning 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of HuddersfieldHuddersfieldUK

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