As a group of experienced and qualified teachers who are also academics that are involved in Higher Education Institution (HEI) based teacher education, we exist on the boundaries of both groups. We both recognise the challenges of being a busy teacher and the challenges of exposing ideas to criticality. We are, in Wengerian terms: brokers. When we talk to teachers, we talk to them as fellow teachers. When we talk to non-teacher academics, we talk to them as fellow academics. We are uniquely placed to broker ideas from one community to the other.
Academics have to forge a career within academic publishing whilst being exposed to accountability systems from the world of HEI such as the Research Excellence Framework (REF) or the National Student Survey (NSS) survey. They work within definable parameters and have considerable scope. Teachers have their own accountability systems such as pupil outcomes in national tests and non-peer-led inspections systems. Much work has been done to bridge the two professions and the Education Endowment Foundation and the Chartered College are just two examples of this. However, these two institutions arose from the desire to bridge the gap between research undertaken in universities and schools who are responsible for delivering education and its researched ideas to children.
Teachers still shy away from methodologies. More time poor than ever, teachers’ current focus is often towards meeting accountability measures. These measures are not always relatable to the aims of research. The academic treads ever so carefully with a desire not to do research to children, but with them (BERA Guidelines) and ever mindful of children’s rights as set out by United Nations. Teachers and schools have rules and actions that don’t always meet these guidelines – insisting on hair and dress for declared gender, imposing negative sanctions on children, off-rolling or obstructing the needs of SEND children and other policies which would not get past the ethical review board part of an educational research project.
Standing at the boundary of both systems and having experienced both, teacher educators within a HEI setting have to look to stitch these two jagged edges together. Teachers need to understand the ethical issues that drive the way educational researchers work and educational researchers need to understand the very real and pragmatic issues that drive the way teachers work. Hosting blogs from both sides of these boundaries with editorial peer review will help us contribute our part to bridging the gap.