Advanced skills teachers: professional identity and status
To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/13540602.2013.770228
The teaching profession continues to struggle with defining itself in relation to other professions. Even though public opinion positions teachers second only to doctors and nurses in terms of their professional status and prestige research in the UK suggests that teachers still believe that they have much lower status than other professions. With teacher job satisfaction considerably lower today than the past and on-going issues with teacher recruitment and retention, new government policies have set out to enhance the status of teachers both within and outside of the profession. The Advanced Skill Teacher (AST) grade was introduced in 1998 as a means to recognise and reward teaching expertise and was framed as a way of also raising the status of the teaching profession. As to what a teaching professional should look like, the AST was in many ways positioned as the embodiment. Using survey data from 849 ASTs and in depth interviews with 31, this paper seeks to explores the ways that the AST designation impacts or not on teachers’ perceptions of their professional identity. In particular, the paper considers whether such awards contribute in positive ways to a teacher’s sense of professional identity and status. The results from the research suggest that teaching grades that recognise and reward teaching excellence do contribute in important ways to a teachers’ professional identity via an increased sense of recognition, reward and job satisfaction. The results from this research also suggest that recognising the skills and expertise of teachers is clearly important in supporting teacher retention. This is because as it allows highly accomplished teachers to remain where they want to be and that is the classroom.