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'I'm your new teacher' : the impact of teacher mobility on educational opportunities for marginalised students
journal contributionposted on 2004-11-01, 00:00 authored by C Mills, Trevor Gale
This article provides an alternative perspective on what it means to 'do school' in a disadvantaged community, particularly in the way that disadvantage is reproduced for marginalised students. It explores the mobility of teachers (temporarily) working in a small secondary school located in an economically depressed regional community in Australia, characterised by high levels of unemployment, high welfare dependency and a significant indigenous population. Like many disadvantaged schools, the school has difficulty attracting and retaining high ability teachers, instead relying on a high turnover of often-reluctant staff who are sent to (or feel compelled to) fill positions unable to be resourced through teacher choice procedures. Drawing on parent, student, and teacher interviews, we ask: how does teacher mobility in this context influence the educational opportunities of students who are 'on the margins' of school success and of the socio-economic structure? Specifically, we explore the ways that teacher mobility can reproduce disadvantage by limiting students' access to the dominant cultural capital. We argue that educational policies and politics that reward teacher mobility for moving out of these communities, work to disadvantage students. What is needed is a transformation in policies governing staff placements to establish alternatives that redefine the reward system for teachers in ways that permit these students to succeed.