This article reports a 3-year case study of a primary school in England, in which a recently appointed principal attempted to build ‘collegial professional autonomy’ (Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, 2, 2015, 20) within a push to improve students’ progress and attainment. The research examined the tensions between staff who embraced the principal's agenda for collegially agreed change, and whose students’ academic progress and performance improved over a 3-year consecutive period when measured in terms of students’ entry-level attainment and socio-economic factors, and staff who asserted their right to ‘individual professional autonomy’ and whose students’ academic progress and attainment declined. The research: (i) challenges claims that reform necessarily results in school cultures of compliancy, de-professionalisation and the technicisation of teaching; (ii) raises issues concerning the pedagogical leadership of principals in a devolved, ‘self-governing’ school system; and (iii) questions teachers’ entitlements to individual professional autonomy where this is associated with students’ continuing academic underperformance.
Day, C. (2020). How teachers’ individual autonomy may hinder students’ academic progress and attainment: Professionalism in practice. British Educational Research Journal, 46(1), 247-264. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3577