Enabling roles to reclaim teacher agency: Insights from the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (Foundation Phase)

  • HB Ebrahim
  • DC Verbeek
  • JN Mashiya
Keywords: teachers, foundation phase, continuing teacher education, agency, performativity, transformation


In developing the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT) as a professional qualification for continuing teacher education for early schooling at the University of KwaZulu-Natal we asked the following: “What are the enabling roles foundation phase teachers need to play in order to reclaim their space as agents who significantly influence their professional practice and how can they be assisted to become fully engaged in these roles?” We believe that this focus is timely and critical given the current effect of the discourse of standards and accountability on teacher agency. In this article we present a framework of enabling roles which create opportunities for teacher-students to experience critical reflection, transformatory learning and the development towards stronger agency. A significant implication of the framework is that teachers gain the experience of being part of a community in dialogue instead of a blunt tool for externally imposed curriculum demands. Space is created for both personal direction and the development of practice from within the foundation phase. We are mindful of the fact that, once the course has been completed and the qualification obtained, the lack of personal commitment and institutional pressure to teach in government-sanctioned ways may create slippage and constrain liberating roles. Nonetheless, we feel that, in introducing the roles in the ACT, developmental opportunities for teacher autonomy and transformative professionalism will be created.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0258-2236