Thresholds for dis/trust: exploring the impact of standards-based reforms on the process of being and becoming a VET teacher in England and Austria

CHRISTINA DONOVAN, Hannes Hautz

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Abstract

The paper seeks to illustrate how interventionist education reforms shape trust-building processes, and its impact upon teacher professionalism in vocational education and training (VET) across national contexts. Through an analysis of VET teacher narratives in England and Austria, the paper draws attention to the ways in which policy instrumentalism has created a culture of distrust in VET. Drawing upon foundational work on system trust developed by Niklas Luhmann, we illustrate how conditions for trust sit at symbolic thresholds, which set the conditions for professional recognition within VET. Our analysis revealed that attempts to standardise VET strategy is fuelled by the need for existential security and predictability, leading to tensions in the cultivation of system trust. Conditions for professional recognition were based on practices of documentation and subordination, narrowly constituting legitimate self-expression in organisations. This constitutes a crisis of trust in VET teacher professionalism which undermines pedagogical autonomy and integrity. We seek to highlight the impact that reduced trust in the governance of VET can contribute to issues associated with teacher motivation, wellbeing and retention. The consideration of trust is therefore essential both for policy design and implementation in VET organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalEducation + Training
Early online date6 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Trust
  • Distrust
  • Teacher Professionalism
  • Vocational education & training
  • Policy
  • trust
  • distrust
  • teacher professionalism
  • vocational education and training
  • education policy
  • neoliberalism

Research Groups

  • Pedagogy and Curriculum Research Network

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