Trainee teachers’ engagement in a cross-curricular news project: impact on professional identity

Bradshaw, Pete and Younie, Sarah (2011). Trainee teachers’ engagement in a cross-curricular news project: impact on professional identity. Advancing Education, Autumn(2011) Article 4.



On 7th September at BERA, the above ITTE members presented the findings from their ITTE evaluation project, funded by the TDA into the impact of the BBC News School Report project on trainee teachers.

In short, the project found that the professional identity of trainee teachers, is, in part, defined by their relationship to those who mentor and tutor them. As teachers in training they are in a role with less power than those who are responsible for their training, support and development.

The ITTE evaluation focused on the impact of trainee teachers’ engagement in the BBC News School Report project and how this helped to form their professional identity. This was examined through the roles taken by trainee teachers in the project while on placement in schools, the activities they were consequently engaged in and the types of evidence generated for their assessment against the Standards for Qualified Teachers in England.

The evaluation of the project for Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), the government agency responsible for teacher training in England, involved the following instruments of data collection - surveys, focus groups and written reports. Respondents included trainee teachers themselves, their tutors as representatives of teacher education providers and their mentors as representatives of schools in which they were placed. The methodological approach was interpretative and phenomenological with qualitative and quantitative data being analysed for emergent themes.

The paper presented at BERA focused on one of the themes found, that of the impact on the professional identity of trainee teachers exposed to taking up leadership roles. The research showed that their professional identity is enhanced through their being in a leading role in respect of curriculum and working with other staff. Their self perception of role was modified to one in which they saw themselves, and were seen, as equals to qualified staff rather than subservient or dependent on them. Furthermore, engagement in such projects led them to collecting richer, more holistic evidence for meeting the Standards as they took greater ownership for this process, situating it in their leading role in the project. Their identity became defined less by the articulation of Standards and by their relationship to others and more by their own notions of professionalism. A new more equal power relationship developed as they took on responsibility for the project.

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