Expressions of agency within complex policy structures: Science teachers’ experiences of education policy reforms in Sweden
(English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, E-ISSN 1464-5289Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Understanding teacher responses within schools is central to improving the long term outcomes of education policy reform. In this paper we explore the experiences of school science teachers as they enact three linked curriculum and assessment policy reforms in Sweden. Two individual interviews separated by 6-9 months were conducted with each of 13 teachers. Analysis is guided by a sociocultural perspective that emphasises the practice of teaching as an interplay between teachers’ knowledge, skills and goals, and the characteristics of the social, institutional and policy settings in which they work. The teachers in our study talk about the policy reforms as having a significant impact on their working lives. Many teachers identified elements of the reforms as providing continuity with their personal professional goals. In some schools responding to the reforms led to new and productive teacher group working practices. However, teachers also referred to significant contradictions associated with enacting the reforms. Navigating these continuities and contradictions resulted in different expressions of teacher agency, e.g. ‘expanded agency’, subversion, and transfer of authority. To support a balance between accountability to external policy and local autonomy we recommend that education policy reforms should seek ‘policy coherence’ and provide in-built flexibility to enable, indeed require, teachers to adapt reforms to local contexts whilst retaining core policy elements.
Research subject Curriculum Studies
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-311216OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-311216DiVA: diva2:1059052
ProjectsGrades and national tests in year 6: potential influence on Science teaching