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Engaging with curriculum reform: insights from English history teachers’ willingness to support curriculum change

Harris, R. and Graham, S. (2019) Engaging with curriculum reform: insights from English history teachers’ willingness to support curriculum change. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 51 (1). pp. 43-61. ISSN 1366-5839

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/00220272.2018.1513570


The curriculum has been the target of sustained reform by many governments, and accountability measures are frequently used to compel teachers to engage with the process of change. This research aimed to explore the extent to which secondary school history teachers in England willingly engaged with a series of concurrent curriculum reforms, and the factors that shaped their level of agency in the process. Data were obtained through online surveys conducted annually from 2015 to 2017, providing over 1100 individual responses. Responses to closed items were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics, and qualitative responses were coded to identify key themes. Generally the teachers were reluctant to engage in the process of reform. There was some statistically significant variation between teachers in different types of school, with those in state-funded schools less welcoming of change than their counterparts in private schools. Teachers’ willingness to engage with changes was also related to their sense of subject identity. However it is evident that the role of accountability measures dominates teachers’ thinking, not just in relation to examination courses, but also what teachers choose to do in non-examined phases of the curriculum. This appears to diminish teachers’ agency when creating a curriculum.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:78799
Uncontrolled Keywords:history education; teacher agency; curriculum; curriculum reform; teacher attitudes, values and beliefs
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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