The effects of the National Curriculum on infant teachers' practice
The study seeks to explore the individual responses of six teachers, faced with a major change in their professional lives i.e. the introduction of the national curriculum. Chapter 1 traces the development of infant education and the emergence of teachers of very young children. It begins by exploring the role of governesses and goes on to examine images of infant teachers as they have been revealed through literature. It poses the hypothesis that female primary school teachers have, historically, had constraints on their career development in a way which men have not. Chapter 2 gives an account of the growth of professionalism in teaching over the last 100 years. It continues with the theme of the feminisation of teaching, charting the progress of women's unions, especially those connected with teaching, and developing further the notion of women teachers suffering from low status. Chapter 3 appraises ethnographic approaches and describes in detail the research plan used, involving case-studies. It goes on to evaluate the process of data-gathering with particular reference to the writer's own role. Chapter 4 selects from the data three themes for detailed analysis: assessment, the status of subjects and the relationship between teachers and children. Chapter 5 draws together the theme of feminisation raised in Chapter 1 and relates it to further issues arising from the teachers' situations during the study. It deals with individual responses to change and the effects of stress, in particular the loss of a sense of 'self. It explores the role of ideology as a source of conflict and the perceived powerlessness of teachers. It looks forward to the future role of infant teachers in a 'back to basics' society and puts forward the notion that the skills needed for teaching very young children are not necessarily confined to women.