Building the culture of education for 5 to 8 year olds in the UK : a comparison of policy and attitudes in England and Scotland
Although England and Scotland are two of the countries composing the UK, there are differences and similarities between the structures of education in each country. Teachers often struggle to explain the multi-faceted nature of their work and the general public rarely understands the complexities that educational professionals have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Teachers of 5 to 8 year olds in England and Scotland are expected to fulfil diverse and complex roles. Since devolution, changes have been implemented in Scotland affecting teachers' workload. Changes in the culture of education in both countries have affected the professional and personal lives of teachers. A larger dehumanisation of education in the name of efficiency and cost effectiveness is affecting the morale of teachers and many are leaving the profession. Historical method and a questionnaire are the main methods used to investigate the extent to which teachers of 5 to 8 year olds in England and Scotland have been affected by government legislation of the 1980s up to the present. The research also seeks to discover what changes teachers have made in order to work within the educational climate that resulted from that legislation. The questionnaire includes demographic data, scales for teachers to rate their ideal vs. actual teaching situations, emotive statements taken from a national survey for Likert scale response in terms of agreement or disagreement, and space for open-ended comments. The data were subjected to statistical analysis using SPSS. Two-way ANOVAs with repeated measures and one way ANOVAs were used in the analysis of the questionnaires, in addition to factor analysis. In the discussion of the findings, the historical accounts of the development of education in England and Scotland affecting the teachers of 5 to 8 year olds was used, along with respondents' open ended comments, to inform the results of the statistical analysis of the questionnaire. The findings show a perceived gap between respondents' ideal and actual teaching situations in both countries, and a somewhat negative trend in the overall response to both types of scaled items, with only a few group differences. The pattern of response is interpreted as showing dissatisfaction with managerialism in UK education, and it is argued that this emphasis is affecting the dynamics and cohesiveness of schools. The resulting, increasingly performative culture is perceived to be degrading the quality of early years' education by a process of depersonalisation and restricted implementation of professional expertise.