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‘It’s our job to take the limits away’: A case study approach to exploring a culture of teacher expectations in an English secondary school

Smith, Julie

‘It’s our job to take the limits away’: A case study approach to exploring a culture of teacher expectations in an English secondary school Thumbnail


Authors

Julie Smith



Abstract

The concept of labelling and notions of fixed abilities are prevalent in our education system (Archer et al., 2018). From the earliest stages of formal education, teachers are required to make predictions about future development of the children based on present attainment, as well as determining the students’ academic ability (Dixon, 2002; Marks, 2013). Children from lower socioeconomic groups and from particular minority ethnic groups are over-represented in lower sets and streams, and allocation to these groups does not always match the level of ‘ability’ as designated by test scores (Francis et al., 2017). As children progress through school, socioeconomic attainment gaps widen, suggesting that schooling exacerbates inequalities in education attainment (Clifton and Cook, 2012).
Within this context, this research explores the beliefs of ‘high expectation teachers’, and the practices through which teachers aim to build an inclusive learning environment, in addition to the ways they develop strategies that do not rely on pre-determined ability labelling. Through the use of case study, findings suggest that there are a range of beliefs, teaching strategies and practices used by teachers that are associated with high teacher expectations (Rubie-Davies et al., 2015). These include teachers’ use of questioning, the role of feedback (closely linked with goal setting), the belief that all students can achieve their own potential, and the creation of a warm, supportive classroom climate.
Findings also suggest, however, that there are perceived barriers to creating a culture of high expectation. These include the impact of students’ home environment, students’ behaviour and levels of motivation, resilience and self-regulation, the complexities of teaching with appropriate pace and levels of challenge, and large class sizes. Further barriers are created by the impact of labelling on student self-perception and behaviours, and attitudes towards attainment groupings.
Implications for practice are that teachers should be given opportunities to innovate or refine pedagogical approaches that will improve students’ learning, and that forms of ‘high-integrity’ attainment groupings should be implemented. The findings are therefore of relevance for practitioners interested in the beliefs and practices of high expectation teachers, and in exploring these strategies in their own contexts.

Thesis Type Thesis
APA6 Citation Smith, J. ‘It’s our job to take the limits away’: A case study approach to exploring a culture of teacher expectations in an English secondary school. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository....ribe.com/output/4421728
Additional Information Initial thesis submission.

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