Teacher Agency and Education Policy Change – an exploration of the impact of teacher involvement in successful education policy change using the context of teacher education and professional learning.

Involvement of teachers at the early stages of education policy change processes has been proven to promote a greater sense of engagement and willingness to work with and promote the success of a policy change (Baumfield, et al, 2011). The arguably predominant absence of teachers in this process however results in numerous agencies consulting on and redeveloping policy in an attempt to guide teacher’s practice in a way that will make the change intended, but result in a lack of impact and policy changes that are made to merge with current practice and cause minimal disruption.

Flawed power structures in the policy making process has implications for the involvement and impact of teachers in the reform or change process and thus the engagement in the implementation and evaluation process based on pre-determined policy goals and importantly, the perception and reality of policy success (McConnell, 2010).

My study aims to establish if teachers were involved to a greater degree in the early phase of the formulation of the policy change agenda rather than simply the implementation, would this result in successful and sustainable policy change that ultimately has high positive impact for learners across the education system?

I aim to answer:

• How is the role of the teacher in planning for and executing policy change in teacher education and professional learning currently conceptualised in the literature?

• What role do teachers view themselves as having in the policy change agenda, implementation and evaluation stages?

• What role do teachers believe they should have in the policy change process?
-What are the tensions between how teachers are currently involved in the policy change process and what the
role they believe they should have?

This study aims to acquire an understanding of the teacher’s role in and beliefs about policy making and develop a model of teacher engagement in policy conception, development and implementation based on the analysis of the data collected. Data will be obtained from semi structured interviews, as well as attitude scales used to analyse the perceptions of teachers as well as key figures within the policy making field in Scottish education (Mills, 2011; Cohen, et al, 2011).

Early results indicate that greater involvement of teachers in decision-making and policy development is the strongest predictor of both teachers’ sense of efficacy and professional fulfilment. Teachers’ willingness to participate in different policy-making process varies depending on the context or subject matter (Sarafidou & Chatziioannidis, 2013; Smylie, 1992).