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The impact of leadership and management on the construction of professional identity in school learning mentors

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This paper explores the perceptions of school learning mentors with respect to their professional development and emerging professional identity. Although tentative, the emergence of two distinct professional identities is reported in this study: first, an instrumental technical identity characterized by compliance; and second, a creative professional identity characterized by an active involvement in the creation of one's own professionality. Emerging differences in identity appear to be influenced by feelings of security in school learning mentors' role definition and sense of purpose and by the power differential they perceive between themselves and qualified teaching staff. The findings have implications for the present workforce remodelling agenda in England and Wales, intended, in part, to facilitate the work of teachers via greater professionalization of learning support assistants. It is suggested that the leadership and management of schools hosting learning mentors and other learning support assistants should further consider their approach to the professionality of this important group of workers if frustrated identity claims, dissatisfaction, poor morale and their exit from the education service is to be avoided.
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Keywords: Leadership; Learning mentor; Learning support assistant; Professional identity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Birmingham, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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