The paradox of professionalism in English Further Education: A TLC project perspective
Gleeson, D. and James, D. (2007) The paradox of professionalism in English Further Education: A TLC project perspective. Educational Review, 59 (4). pp. 451-467. ISSN 0013-1911
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131910701619340
This paper examines the shifting nature of Further Education (FE) professionalism through the lenses of the Transforming Learning Cultures in FE (TLC) project. Despite over a decade of market and managerial reform professionalism in FE remains an elusive and paradoxical concept. With some notable exceptions there exists little official data or research evidence of who its practitioners are, their dispositions or how they define professionalism in the contested contexts of their work. In addressing this neglected issue, albeit in a brief fashion here, the paper engages with wider debate concerning the culturally oriented nature of FE practice, as it mediates contradictory policy agendas, at college level. The paper highlights some of the paradoxes involved in a public management discourse that seeks to modernize FE professionals whilst, at the same time, displaying little understanding of their current practice or contexts in which they work. Drawing on the narratives of experienced practitioners participating in the TLC project (2001-2005) the paper explores their perceptions and experiences of professionalism through cultures of learning that simultaneously enhance and restrict their professional room for manoeuvre.