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Re-thinking 'role models': Equal opportunities in teacher recruitment in England and Wales

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christine Skelton


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Since 1997, the Blair administration has taken various steps to make school teaching a more inclusive occupation. For example, in England and Wales it has introduced measures to increase levels of male recruitment to primary teaching and attract more ethnic minority entrants to the profession. This paper shows how these policies have been legitimated by an appeal to commonsense notions about the salience of 'role models' in socialization. Underlying official discourse in this sphere is the assumption that the 'targeted recruitment' of male or ethnic minority teachers will provide much-needed 'role models' in schools for those groups most likely to experience educational failure and disaffection. Thus, matching teachers and children by gender or ethnicity is seen as a panacea for male or Black 'underachievement'. This paper begins by weighing the strengths and weaknesses of current policies on gender, ethnicity, and teaching. Having subjected the 'role model' argument to critical scrutiny, it moves on to discuss the dilemmas encountered by male entrants to primary teaching during the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and ethnic minority students preparing to teach in either the primary or secondary sectors. Drawing upon the findings of two recently completed studies, the students' responses to the policies under consideration and their lived experiences during school placement are considered. The paper concludes by exploring the implications of the discussion for policy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Carrington B, Skelton C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Education Policy

Year: 2003

Volume: 18

Issue: 3

Pages: 253-265

Print publication date: 01/05/2003

ISSN (print): 0268-0939

ISSN (electronic): 1464-5106

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/02680930305573


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