Revisioning teacher education within higher education: An invitation to engage in a collaborative metaphorical exploration in the light of the Market Review of Initial Teacher Education in England

Elizabeth Hoult, Judy Durrant, Richard Holme, Christine Lewis, David Littlefair, Matthew Martinez, Lizana Oberholzer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


At last year’s BERA Conference (2022), the Hot Topic session on “The contribution that teacher education as a sub-discipline makes to higher education institutions”, provoked an engaging debate on the issues arising from collaborative research undertaken by a group originally convened within UCET (Universities Council for the Education of Teachers). The research was prompted by a sense that teacher education had become increasingly marginalised and ‘othered’ within a performative and centralising Higher Education (HE) sector, amidst a volatile and unpredictable policy landscape. The aim of the research was to develop a stronger understanding of teacher education as a sub-discipline within the context of a metric-driven sector which privileges research and knowledge exchange. The overarching research question concerned how teacher education contributes positively and distinctively to universities’ strategic aims, ‘challenging the discourse of derision’ (after Furlong, 2019). Teacher educators working in Higher Education responded to an online survey, issued via UCET, from which we identified two clear narrative threads. The first story was a ‘face value’ response concerning perceptions of contributions and challenges within the sector. Teacher educators highlighted the strong regional anchorage provided by their departments, their pedagogic and leadership expertise, and research opportunities, enhanced recruitment and status arising from partnerships. Significant challenges were identified, including political intervention and uncertainty amidst often unsupportive university cultures. Respondents identified how quality captured by HE metrics might miss the scope, complexity and reciprocity of the contribution made by teacher education. There was recognition of the difficulties of managing inherently complex professional identities (Czerniawski, 2018), leading to a second story identified within the data, illuminated by Povinelli’s (2013) analysis of late liberalism: responses revealed palpable hesitation in articulation of responses, with disruptive notes of reticence, apology and self-deprecation seeming to represent a ‘stuttering’ expression of negotiation and fluidity of identity (MacLure, 2011) (paper in review).

Significantly, the above research was concluded on the cusp of the Market Review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) for England (DfE, 2021) which presents further challenge to the security of HE teacher education. This heralded revised frameworks for initial and early career teacher education, requiring accreditation of providers for courses from 2024-5, with increased emphasis on school-centred provision. Since our initial research took place the BERA State of the Discipline report has been published (BERA, 2023) which deepens and broadens the themes raised in our initial study considerably. Our research group is concerned to explore how these recent changes have affected the perceptions, experiences and vision of HE teacher educators. This interactive session is designed to revisit the role and contribution of teacher education within the HE sector in the context of these seismic changes, calibrating our original research questions accordingly: What is our vision for a resilient teacher education department within the current climate? How can teacher education not only survive but thrive within higher education? What contributions might re-visioned teacher education departments make to strategic aims within the HE sector?

This Hot Topic session will provide an opportunity to gather ideas, opinions and experiences with the strategic hope of seeking solidarity and strengthening the collective voice of teacher educators and others working in the wider field of education. After an introduction incorporating full information about the opportunity to contribute to research as part of the session, an interactive workshop will enable small-group conversations, with an invitation to use images to develop a metaphorical response regarding the impact and implications of the Market Review, exploring a vision for the future amidst ongoing systemic and institutional changes within the HE sector. The use of metaphors is recognised as a tool for reflection and meaning making (Bolton, 2014), encouraging creative illumination of emotive themes and complex experiences. Each group will be offered some pictures, selected to avoid encouraging obvious interpretations, to elicit responses in the light of the Market Review. Subject to individuals’ consent, data will be collected anonymously during the session as handwritten notes and summaries, then collated and shared to participants via email, with opportunity to stay in touch with the research group. However, anyone not wishing to have their contributions anonymously noted and shared or preferring to comment ‘off the record’ is still warmly welcome to participate fully in the discussion. This research event is subject to university ethical approval from one institution represented in our collaborative research group. It will be made clear that the data is intended to be used as the basis for further research and publication into perceptions of teacher education’s existing and potential role, contribution and positioning within the HE sector.

BERA (2023) The State of the discipline survey of education researchers, available from: (accessed May 2023)

Bolton, G. (2014) Reflective Practice: writing and professional development. London: Sage (4th Edition)

Czerniawski, G. (2018). Teacher Educators in the Twenty-First Century: Identity, knowledge and research. UK: Critical Publishing

DfE (2021) ‘Market Review of Initial Teacher Training’ available from Market review of initial teacher training (ITT) - GOV.UK ( accessed May 2023 (updated September 2022)

Furlong, J. (2019). The Universities and initial teacher education; challenging the discourse of derision. The case of Wales. Teachers and Teaching, 25(5), 574-588.

MacLure, M. (2011). Qualitative Enquiry: where are the ruins? Qualitative Enquiry 17(10), 997-1005.

Povinelli, E. (2013). The social projects of late liberalism, Dialogues in Human Geography,
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2023
EventBritish Educational Research Association Conference 2023 - Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Sept 202314 Sept 2023


ConferenceBritish Educational Research Association Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleBERA 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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