'The elephant in the room': Audit culture and TAFE teachers

Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association, AVETRA
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
13th Annual Conference VT Research: Leading and responding in turbulent times, 2010, pp. 1 - 10
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
The work of TAPE teachers has changed considerably in the past decade or more, as indicated in numerous studies (e.g. Chappell & Johnston 2003, Harris, Simon & Clayton 2005). However, one aspect of change which has not featured prominently in Australian VET research is the much increased compliance with audit requirements, and arguably it is the scale of this increased compliance that could be said to have transformed the work of TAFE teachers in recent years (see Black 2009a 2009b). The relative neglect of research into this aspect of change explains the title of this paper, 'the elephant in the room' (see Groundwater-Smith & Mockler 2009: 73). This paper is an introductory exploration of the 'audit culture' (Apple 2007, Strathern 2000) as it affects TAFE teachers, After outlining some of the conceptual notions of the audit culture in the research literature, and especially in relation to VET, the paper then examines the effects of the audit culture on teachers and their responses. The teacher data are obtained through several methods: firstly, a state-wide, emailed survey questionnaire on the changing role of head teachers in T AFE NSW (Black 2009a 2009b); secondly, in-depth, taped interviews with head teachers across two TAPE NSW Institutes; and thirdly, a series of taped, focus group discussions with teaching staff from several TAFE NSW Access sections. Through an examination of these data the effects of audits on the work of teachers will be discussed, as well as an exploration of the tensions between the audit requirements and the teachers' professional expertise.
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