An exploration of how teachers make sense of their school's environment
This research explores the understanding teachers have of their local school environment. Using one primary and one secondary school, teachers understandings were explored via the collection and analysis of data predominantly of a qualitative nature. School documentation, teacher interviews and observation of meetings provided the main sources of data used to identify teacher attitudes and knowledge of their local environment. The research concludes that the relationship schools have with their local environment is based upon a lack of any systematic approach to collecting information about the local community or systematic analysis and description of the local environment. Whilst the schools suggested that they worked in partnership with individuals and agencies within the local community, the operations of the schools reflected an unequal distribution of power, the majority of which was held by the schools. Teachers tended to interpreted their actions in terms of their own professional needs rather than as a product of a systematic consideration of objectives, needs and aspirations that have been agreed jointly with members of the local community and hold sceptical attitudes towards the members of the local community in terms of the potential contribution they can and do make to the professional work of teachers. The schools demonstrated characteristics of a paternalistic monopoly in the operational style with which they interact with their local communities. The schools use their power to control their relationship with the local community of service users and attempt to control the lifestyles of members of the local community.