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Secondary PGCE student teachers’ career aspirations: implications for teacher educators Joan Smith University of Leicester School of Education
Overview of the presentation • • Background to the study Research design Initial findings Implications for practice: some strategies trialled at Uo. L
Background to the study
Life histories & career decisions of women teachers Life history study of 40 women teachers (Smith, 2007): • 10 very positive female headteachers; • 28 of 30 female teachers would not consider headship (Smith, 2011). Student teachers’ aspirations study: • Student teachers’ perceptions of/aspirations to leadership/headship; • Gender differences in aspirations?
Student teachers’ aspirations study Aims: to investigate whethere are gender differences in student teachers’ aspirations; to identify key influences on their career orientations over time.
Research questions • What motivates PGCE students to choose teaching as a career? • Are there links between the nature of motivation and future aspirations? • Are there differences according to gender?
Methodology & research tools Initial survey Questionnaire to all new secondary PGCE students (n=185) 3 sections: 1. Personal details 2. Factors motivating students to choose teaching as a career 3. Future aspirations
Methodology & research tools Life history interviews 5 male & 5 female students Interviews undertaken start of year; repeat end of year & end of QTS year (possibly more) Longitudinal view of teachers’ aspirations & the factors that affect them
The interviews • • Motivation/reasons for wanting to teach Future aspirations Perceptions of headship Other life experiences impacting on career decision
Findings from initial survey questionnaire 105 (of 185) questionnaires were returned: 36 male (age 21 -53) 69 female (age 21 -53) Top 5 reasons for wanting to teach: • Job satisfaction (94) and enjoyment (94) • Want to work with young people (88) • Love of specialist subject (83) • Want to make a difference (76)
Future aspirations: top 5 posts • • • Head of subject/department (86) Head of year/house (63) Assistant head of year/house (49) Assistant headteacher (41) Head of Faculty (39)
Aspirations by gender: senior posts Post Males/36 Females/69 Total/105 Assistant headteacher 17 24 41 Deputy head/VP 16 13 29 Headteacher/ 13 Principal 11 24
Themes emerging from initial interviews • Intrinsic/altruistic motivation • All male participants would consider headship • 2 female participants would consider headship, others unsure • The ways male and female talked about themselves varied – females more hesitant & uncertain, males more positive & agentic
Q: Do you think you might be a head one day? ‘Erm, yes probably, although…the impression I have of it is that it is actually a lot of paperwork…so if I was going to do it, I would still like to teach and do it…I don’t want to get bogged down in the budgetary side of it and all that sort of stuff if I could help it, but at the same time I think that ultimately I would like to do it…I just think that you would have the opportunity to set the tone for the school and if you can get the school going well it also has a positive impact not just in the school but in the surrounding area…if you get it right it could be a powerful thing’ (Tim, PGCE student, 29)
Q: So, how about in five years, or ten years hence…where do you think you’ll be? ‘Gosh! Err…I don’t know if I’d ever go for a headteacher role…but you never know as well’ (Becky PGCE student, 23) ‘I suppose I haven’t really thought about it…but err…about being part of the senior management team or anything like that…I wouldn’t be against being part of the senior management team…but I’m not sure I want to take on the, you know, the high up roles…like the deputy head or the head’ (Michelle, PGCE student, 21)
Q: Would [headship] appeal to you? ‘ ‘Yes, I think so…it’s certainly something I wouldn’t ever rule out… I always look at it that other people manage to do it, and yeah, it might take a bit of practice, a bit of skill, but maybe it’s the confidence I’ve got through what I’ve achieved in the past…my degree and my Ph. D and everything, that it’s just practice’ (Roy, PGCE student, 30).
Q: Does [headship] appeal to you? ‘I think…I don’t know…because I need to experience the teaching first…’cause I don’t know how I’ll feel about that yet. I don’t know how confident I’m going to be. I don’t know what it’s going to do to my head…err…but I do see myself as a very involved teacher, if not, you know, department head or year head…because I don’t want to just teach [subject]…I want to get involved with the school’ (Maggie, PGCE student, 22)
Implications for practice: some strategies Career Development strand of TDC introduced 2010 -11 Core sessions: 1. Your career starts here: making the most of the PGCE year 2. Roles and responsibilities in the secondary school 3. Applying for your first teaching post 4. Professional learning communities 5. Being a Newly Qualified Teacher 6. Induction year, opportunities for CPD and teachers’ unions
Career Development strand: optional workshop sessions • • Practice session for skills test in numeracy Writing a letter of application Preparing for an interview Being a subject leader Being a SENCO Becoming a headteacher (cancelled!!!) Teaching in an EBD school Teaching Sport
Summary • Initial findings of study on student teachers’ career aspirations & motivation • Motivation to teach similar for most student teachers (intrinsic and altruistic) • Some indications of gender differences in aspirations to the most senior posts • Need to consider how we can support student teachers with career planning/raising apirations
References Kyriacou, C. & Coulthard, M. (2000) Undergraduates’ views of teaching as a career choice. Journal of Education for Teaching 26 (2): 117 -126. Priyadharshini, E. & Robinson-Pant, A. (2003) The attractions of teaching: an investigation into why people change careers to teach. Journal of Education for Teaching 29 (2): 95 -112. Roness, D. & Smith, K. (2009) Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and student motivation. European Journal of Teacher Education 32 (2): 111 -134. Smith, J. (2007) Life histories and career decisions of women teachers. Ph. D thesis, University of Leeds. Smith, J. (2008) Maslow, motivation and female teachers’ career decisions. Psychology of Women Section Review 10 (1): 22 -30. Smith, J. (2011) (forthcoming) Aspirations to and perceptions of secondary headship: contrasting women teachers’ and headteachers’ perspectives. Educational Management Administration and Leadership.