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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Jonathan Tummons

Atkins, L. & Tummons, J. (2017). Professionalism in Vocational Education: International Perspectives. Research in Post-Compulsory Education 22(3): 355-369.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper explores notions of professionalism amongst vocational teachers in the United Kingdom and Australia, through an analysis of voluntarism/regulatory frameworks and professional body frameworks. In terms of empirical evidence, the paper reports on data drawn from a documentary analysis of government policy documents, standards for the education of teachers, and regulatory frameworks in both countries. It is located within a broad range of literature exploring contemporary concepts of professionalism amongst vocational teachers. Documentary analysis implies that whilst there is an expectation and assumption that vocational teachers are, and should be, professional, this is not necessarily translated through initial teacher training requirements, some of which fail to address concepts of professionalism at all. Further, it offers evidence to suggest that where notions of professionalism are addressed, the concept is described in largely reductive and utilitarian terms, and that this is the case in both countries. The paper considers the implications of this for teachers, students, and wider practice within the sector, arguing that meaningful understandings of the notion of professional, which are effectively applied in practice, are fundamental to broader understandings of key issues in further education, such as those associated with in/equalities and in/exclusion in education contexts. The paper concludes that such understandings are unlikely to be drawn from utilitarian, Competency Based Training (CBT) based teacher-training programmes.