Education professionalism and new times an international and democratic model
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Education professionalism and New Times: an international and democratic model. Prof. Ken Spours Centre for Post-14 Research and Innovation Institute of Education, University of London. Three global models of education ( Sahlberg , 2007).

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Education professionalism and New Times: an international and democratic model

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Education professionalism and New Times: an international and democratic model

Prof. Ken Spours

Centre for Post-14 Research and Innovation

Institute of Education, University of London

Three global models of education(Sahlberg, 2007)

  • 1. Anglo Saxon (e.g. US, England, New Zealand, Eastern Europe and now Africa) – markets, choice and competition; standardising teaching and learning and test-based accountability.

  • 2. Pacific (e.g. South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and now China) – authoritarian/conformist; high levels of parental/social support for education; didactic teaching methods; high expectations and normative behaviours.

  • 3. Nordic (e.g. Finland) – high status education profession; high trust relationships; devolved responsibilities within broad national frameworks; an emphasis on links between education, social services and localities linked to school improvement.

The Anglo Saxon/neo-liberal model of professionalism

  • Anglo Saxon model of education – external, centralised assessment and accountability, choice and marketisation, standardised teaching

  • Managerial (bureaucratic, marketised) version of professionalism part of this model – New Labour and top-down professional standards + Coalition and market deregulation of professional standards

  • Effects on education profession – bureaucratised functions, transactions costs; performativity, compliance and lack of professional and creative freedom; now lack of professional standards particularly related to pedagogy (UCU 2013)

New Times – the new global context

  • New Times is term for a ‘progressive tendency’ within neo-liberal globalisation – comprises technological, economic, social and political developments – a focus on soft power and growing civil society. (Adnan 2013)

  • New Times comprises the following features:

  • Horizontal networking, digital technologies and global connectivity

  • Flatter enterprises, co-operatives the concept of the social economy (Murray 2012)

  • International radical social movements (e.g. Occupy)

  • The idea of the relational society (Rustin 2007)

  • Focus on sustainability, wellbeing and human empathy (Adnan 2013)

  • A radical interpretation of New Times involves a rejection of free markets; top-down state; wealth inequalities; harming the planet and the social recession.

A democratic and ecological model of professionalism for New Times

  • New Times is a challenge to all the global models, even the Nordic variant

  • Beyond ‘dual professionalism’ (expertise in an area of knowledge/practice and pedagogical expertise)

  • ‘Triple professionalism’ (Hodgson and Spours, 2013) is democratic (Whitty & Wisby, 2006), activist (Sachs, 2003) and ecological (Barnett, 2012)

    • ethically driven

    • co-production with other professionals and students

    • fostering democratic institutions

    • ability to think and act on differing and expanding ecological ‘scalings’ or levels from the individual to the international

  • Ecological and democratic professionalism is ‘demanding’ (Barnett 2012) and needs high support in order to ‘shape New Times’

Professionalism: international perspectives from the OECD

Supporting democraticprofessionalism

  • The concepts of trust, empowerment, mutual accountability; multiple expertise; collaboration and professional capacity building:

  • Being qualified, new settlement in initial teacher education and licensing

  • Continuous professional learning, willingness to improve - movement towards a masters level profession?

  • Expansive school and college work environments – focused on supporting the development of expansive competences and expansive identity

  • Communities of practice through local, national and international teacher networks

  • Beyond self-regulation - new forms of democratic accountability at the local level

  • A new approach to inspection – focused on improvement and partnership with teachers and school leaders

  • A new national college of educators


Barnett, R. (2012) 'Towards an Ecological Professionalism' in C. Sugrue and T. DyrdalSolbrekke (eds.), Professional Responsibility: New Horizons of Praxis. Abingdon (Routledge).

Adnan, I. (2013) In New Times change happens when you are not looking

Hodgson, A. and Spours, K. (2013) Why IfL should support triple professionalism, InTuition, Issue 13, London: Institute for Learning.

Murray, R. (2009) in Danger and opportunity: Crisis and the new social economy, London: NESTA.

Rustin, M. (2013) ‘A Relational Society’ in After Neo-Liberalism: A Kilburn Manifesto

Sachs, J. (2003) The Activist Teaching Profession, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Sahlberg, P. (2007) Secondary education in OECD Countries Common Challenges, Differing Solutions, Turin: European Training, 2007.

Schleicher, A. (2011) Building a High Quality Teaching Profession. Lessons from Around the World. OECD. Available online at

UCU (2013) Towards a UCU policy on professionalism London: UCU.

Whitty, G. and Wisby, E. (2006). ‘Collaborative’ and ‘democratic’ professionalism: alternatives to ‘traditional’ and ‘managerial’ approaches to teacher autonomy. Educational Studies in Japan: International Yearbook No. 1, 25–36.

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