The nature of teachers’ work in a primary Academy school: an ethnographic case study

This paper presents the preliminary findings of an ongoing PhD study on teachers working in a primary Academy school in England. The research is undertaken with the motivation to illuminate, describe and make sense of the changing nature of teachers’ work and the live experience of the working environment of a primary Academy. Through my research, I aim to describe the culture of a primary Academy school and the realities of teachers’ work. The rationale for this study lies in the growing number of primary schools that have acquired an Academy status as a result of the Coalition Government’s educational reforms. In 2010, the Coalition Government for the first time
invited primary schools to become Academies. This allows state-funded schools to govern themselves independently of local authority control.
This research adopted an ethnographic case study approach using participant observations, photographs, documentary analysis and ethnographic interviews as the methods of data generation. The fieldwork started in September 2014 and it is planned to continue until July 2015. Since September, I have spent four days a week in the school working alongside the research participants who are primary teachers working at Sunnyside Primary Academy (pseudonym) located in the North West of England. Some of the results to date indicate that the teachers’ work is constrained by policies both at school and national level. A few changes that occurred in the school include the change in the management structure and the pay of the staff.