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Contested territories: Subject English, teacher education and professional standards in Australia

Kerry-Ann O’Sullivan (School of Education, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 3 May 2016




Increasing government regulation of educational practice with public accountability through a national curriculum and external testing, the establishment of professional teaching standards and associated teacher accreditation requirements are strong forces in contemporary Australian education. This paper aims to identify and examine some of the current governmental policies and the associated institutionalised requirements for initial teacher education within this particular context.


It focuses particularly on preservice English teachers, and in addressing these issues, there is an exploration of the contested territory of the subject English, the key factors affecting initial teacher education students and the effects of professional standards on educators.


It is argued that there is a need for a much broader vision of educational purpose, a richer construction of subject English than is defined by the testing of traditional literacy skills and productivity outcomes, with a greater empowerment of teachers whose achievements are increasingly limited by narrow accountability measures.


Formal accreditation demands appear to constrain the various multimodal practices and creative, collaborative pedagogies that enhance educational experiences in the twenty-first century. The challenge ahead for educators is to find a balance between the contemporary pressures of a global society, external expectations, professional aspirations and personal values.



O’Sullivan, K.-A. (2016), "Contested territories: Subject English, teacher education and professional standards in Australia", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 55-73.



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