Future proofing school reform and
renewal: why teachers matter most
This book has been about the work, lives and effectiveness of teachers in English schools. However, the issues raised apply internationally. Teachers' work in all countries, as the range of research literature cited in this book demonstrates, is complex, emotional and intensive. Professional life phases and sense of identity influence all teachers. Wherever they are, teachers' levels of commitment and their capacities for resilience will be mediated by factors in their workplace, personal lives and by the kinds of direction and pace of national and local interventions in the curriculum, and governance of schools which they will need to accommodate. Issues of teacher quality, standards, recruitment and retention are central, as we have seen, to the political agendas in all countries. For some developing countries, recruitment is paramount (Day and Sachs 2004), for others it is retention (Moore Johnson 2004). Although programmes of reform and renewal vary in their scope and intensity from country to country, from culture to culture and even from school to school, they must all take into account the needs, concerns and well-being of the teachers who are expected to implement them, if they are to meet with success. Teachers who are not committed and resilient are unlikely to be effective. Without teachers who are effective, systemic reform and renewal cannot be sustained. It is teachers who matter most in this respect.
There are five core messages emerging from the research on which this book is based. The first is that to achieve and sustain an effective teaching force, in order to raise standards, requires more than structural reform of organizations, or governance of school and classroom conditions, curricula and assessment; and that while system-wide and organizational reculturing is necessary as a means of supporting teachers' capacities to be effective, it too is an insufficient condition. The second is that teachers' well-being and