Power, influence and ideology : a poststructural analysis of CPD policy for teachers in Scotland
Continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers is a topical issue in Scotland, and beyond, where recent policy developments have pointed towards the desirability of more structured approaches to post-initial teacher education. In the period between the Sutherland Report into teacher education in Scotland (Sutherland, 1997) and the completion of this study in 2005, Scotland has seen the introduction of a CPD framework. While aspects of the framework have been evaluated in terms of the success of their implementation, there has been no real analysis of the policy as a whole, or of the policy development process. This study therefore sought to investigate and articulate issues of power, influence and ideology in the development of CPD policy in Scotland. A poststructuralist approach has been adopted in an attempt to take the analysis beyond issues of content and implementation to explore the underpinning philosophies and the power relationships that have contributed to the current policy position. This approach has involved the critical discourse analysis of a range of publicly available documents as well as the analysis of interviews with sixteen of the educational elite in Scotland. The study deduces that the CPD framework has been shaped from the outset by the promotion of a standards-based approach. The power of this discourse, with its emphasis on targets, efficiency, competence and compliance, has served to limit the need for teachers and other stakeholders to conceive of alternative conceptions of teaching. This discourse is contrasted with a more democratic conception, in which CPD has the power to support transformative practice. It is concluded that CPD policy provides a powerful channel through which particular conceptions of professionalism and of teaching are promoted, and that this discourse needs to be more effectively interrogated and challenged.