The slippery slope to efficiency? An Australian perspective on school/ university partnerships for teacher professional learning

Dr Nicole Mockler, Cambridge Journal of Education (2013)

Large-scale school/university partnerships for the enhancement of teacher professionalism and teacher professional learning have been part of the teacher development landscape in Australia for the past two decades. 

In this paper, Dr Nicole Mockler takes a historical perspective on Australian school/university partnerships through detailing three national projects over a 15-year period, arguing that regimes of increased compliance and accountability that have characterised education policy in Australia over the past decade in particular, have impacted upon the way that school/university partnerships for professional learning have been conceptualised and framed. 

Increasingly, projects have been guided by instrumentalist approaches that emphasise efficiency, such that university-based partners are positioned more as 'providers' of professional development than learning partners, and relationships are conceived of as short-term and funding-dependent. 

Finally, the paper explores the capacity of school/university partnerships to overcome this trajectory, meeting the accountability demands of the current age of compliance while also working into the more transformative domain of teacher development. It suggests conditions under which such partnerships might flourish and concludes with a challenge to both school- and university-based practitioners to reclaim this generative edge in their partnership work, regardless of the policy framework within which it is enacted.

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