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Exploring UK Secondary Teachers' Professional Values: An Overview of the Literature since 2000


Educational Research Volume 52, Number 4, ISSN 0013-1881


Background: Professional commitment from teachers requires more than contractual compliance as personal and professional values are integral to teaching practice. Secondary school teachers are expected to act as role models and demonstrate positive attributes and attitudes in an evolving educational context. Little is known about how they understand or interpret their own values, or realise the shared values that lie at the heart of a school community. Purpose: The purpose of this review is to summarise the literature relating to values that teachers hold. The review is concerned with theoretical and empirical studies in which such values are considered, and also any tensions identified between the personal values of teachers and organisational values of the schools reflected in professional practice. This scoping exercise is part of two-year funded empirical research carried out by the authors in five secondary schools in England, using data from individuals, groups and schools on the personal values of teachers and head teachers. This research explored whether these values are congruent with the organisational values schools seek to establish. Design and methods: An extensive literature review was undertaken relating to the values held by secondary school professionals. The search was restricted to more recent works (i.e. the year 2000 onwards), and was mainly UK and secondary education focused. The search was conducted using the educational database, Education Indexes on Dialog, and the Electronic Journal Service which is a database covering wider disciplines. To reach harder-to-find research reports, additional strategies were adopted including hand searching of key journals and reference to existing publication lists. The review generated over 1000 published references that were then screened to determine whether publications were based on empirical research conducted in schools, and/or helped a deeper theoretical understanding about the meaning of values. Conclusion: The review highlights the integral part values continue to play in education. This article presents a framework of understanding derived from the literary contexts in which values are discussed. There is little "empirical" data to support current understanding about the values that secondary teachers hold, and how these fit with the organisational values of the schools in which they work. Studies in the context of values and professionalism stress the need for dialogue and reflection so that "implicit" values that teachers hold become explicit, and refined through practice.


Sunley, R. & Locke, R. (2010). Exploring UK Secondary Teachers' Professional Values: An Overview of the Literature since 2000. Educational Research, 52(4), 409-425. Retrieved February 18, 2020 from .

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