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Professionalism and partnership : panaceas for teacher education in Scotland?

Kennedy, Aileen and Doherty, Robert (2012) Professionalism and partnership : panaceas for teacher education in Scotland? Journal of Education Policy, 27 (6). pp. 835-848. ISSN 0268-0939

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A critical reading of the Donaldson Report on teacher education in Scotland reveals what might be termed a ‘panacea approach’ to addressing perceived current problems in relation to the quality of teacher education. In particular, the essence of the Donaldson Report is that teachers need to embrace ‘twenty-first century professionalism’ through a partnership approach to teacher education. However, neither ‘professionalism’, nor ‘partnership’ are defined or justified explicitly. Through critical discourse analysis we offer possible interpretations of professionalism and partnership within the context of the Donaldson Report. These interpretations include accepting the use of such terms as simple unconscious and uncritical adherence to a dominant discourse, and the idea that the wholesale embracing of partnership is a much more insidious attempt by the state to promote network governance, thereby limiting potential dominance of any one particular stakeholder group. Through systematic consideration of the immediate textual context of phrases relating to professionalism and partnership, and through a more holistic analysis of the wider policy agenda, we offer a critical reading of the Report. We conclude with a plea that as the rush to attend to the more tangible, operational aspects of the proposed reform gather momentum, such a panacea approach to solving perceived problems needs to be critiqued openly.