Experiences concerning the development of identities of primary school physical education specialist teachers during the first year of teaching in England. A phenomenological case study

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis explores the lived experiences of a critical case sample of eight primary school Physical Education specialists embarking on their first year of teaching in England, with focus on the ways their perceived identities as teachers were impacted by their experiences. All participants were trained at the same Initial Teacher Education Provider on a three year undergraduate degree in Primary Education with Qualified Teacher Status during the academic years of 2013-2016. It explores the individual perspectives, subjective interpretations and issues they identified as contributing factors to their satisfaction, motivation and sense of self. The theoretical framework through which this thesis examines the findings uses Korthagen’s Onion Skin Model (2004) of values and belief and Lawson’s model of Teacher Socialisation (1983a; 1983b, 1986). In contrast to much of the preceding literature this study provides detailed empirical work on identity development from the perspective of Newly Qualified Teachers. A qualitative, interpretivist, phenomenological approach underpinned the gathering and analysis of data. This approach reflected the focus of the study which was to experience and understand the lived experiences of Newly Qualified Teachers and their interpretations of this.
    The adoption of phenomenological case study as the methodological approach captured the uniqueness of the participants’ experiences and their subsequent interpretations. Their aspirations, thoughts and expectations were explored through a series of semi structured interviews within which discussion focused on visual representations of themselves that the participants had created and brought to the interview. The study findings revealed ways that mentors, head teachers, parents and children interacted with the new teachers to inform their perceptions and interpretations of their first year of teaching and how they saw themselves as teachers. Data captured at the start of their first year reveal the NQTs’ trepidation, anticipation, anxiety and excitement for what was to come and their views that they had much to offer their new schools, particularly in respect to their skills in physical education. Findings highlight the importance of context, emotion and people in the new teachers’ lived experiences. Their stories provide information that (physical education) teacher educators may find valuable when considering the ways teachers are supported to prepare for teaching and in their early careers. Ultimately, the study findings have the potential to inform ways new teachers may be retained in the profession and empower them as agents of change with capacity to understand and challenge cultural norms and expectations which may not be beneficial.
    Date of Award5 May 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorJane Murray (Supervisor), Anna Cox (Supervisor) & Cristina Devecchi (Supervisor)


    • identity
    • physical education
    • teaching
    • mentoring
    • socialisation
    • identity construction
    • social context
    • initial teacher education
    • occupational socialisation

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