Teachers enacting policy in context: Strategic and pragmatic responses in senior secondary physical education

Year: 2019

Author: Jones, Andy, Penney, Dawn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper critically explores teachers’ enactment of a new senior secondary physical education course in Western Australia. Drawing on Stephen Ball and colleagues’ conceptualisations, it focuses on the complex relationships between policy actors, policy work and policy contexts. We report research that explored how four physical education teachers, working in different schools, enacted a new senior physical education course. Data was gathered employing a mix methods approach to create series of case study narratives.

Analysis examines the various policy actor positions and roles that each of the teachers adopted and pursues the factors influencing the different possibilities and choices that each of the teachers associated with teaching the new senior physical education in their school. Each of the teachers’ responses is examined in relation to the eight actor positions and four dimensions of context previously identified by Ball et al. Findings and discussion draw attention to factors opening up or in contrast, closing down teachers’ agency in enacting the new course. Our data reaffirms that teachers’ policy work sees them moving between different policy positions in response to conditions that reflect both internal and external influences and agendas. In discussion we draw on Schulte’s concept of ‘politics of use’ to further examine the policy relations expressed in teachers’ enactment of the senior physical education course and to enhance understandings of teachers’ policy work.