Career Orientations and Career Cultures: Individual and Organisational Approaches to Beginning Teachers’ Careers

September, 2016

Source: Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Vol. 22, No. 5, 610–624, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this article is twofold. Firstly, to outline teachers’ orientations towards careers in their first three years in the profession. Secondly, to examine how schools as organisations deal with career, developing a model of organizational responses.

The author draws data principally from three sets of 49 school case study visits focusing in turn on the first, second and third years of teaching, undertaken between Spring 2008 and Spring 2010. The Case Studies visits included interviews with the early-career teachers (ECTs), their mentor and a senior leader in each of the first two years and teachers, their line managers and a senior leader in the third year. The author also used a survey of 298 third-year teachers from 133 secondary, 156 primary, 4 special and 5 independent schools.

In this article, the author provides a new perspective on how schools themselves deal with the career orientations of their teachers, developing a categorisation of what he terms organisational ‘career cultures’.
The author suggests that schools can be considered to have a predominantly action-orientated career culture, encouraging and supporting promotion and career progression both within and beyond the school, or a predominantly stability-orientated career culture, encouraging staff retention in the school in relatively stable roles.

By focusing attention on how organisations deal with careers, the author illustrates that since these individuals’ orientations change, the fit with the school environment can change over time. The author argues that if school leaders are more conscious of this potential change in fit between school culture and teacher orientations, then they are in a stronger position to plan for it.

Updated: Nov. 15, 2018