Retention or Therapy?: The Role of Personal Tutoring in a Further Education College
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
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To enable me to publish papers from my research elsewhere.
Abstract. This thesis focuses on personal tutoring and pastoral support and guidance in a Further Education College. In this study, I explore the relational dynamics and social construction of the role of the personal tutor and reveal alternative discourses concerned with the emergence of the ‘therapeutic’ in the sector. Within the current audit culture of Further Education, new pedagogies of practice are emerging in response to Government policy, regulation and control and I illuminate their impact upon the sector, noting the sites of conflicts for personal tutors engaged in the labour process as they mediate the ‘emotional learning agenda’. The research includes interview data from twenty personal tutors and nine senior managers (senior tutors), and also includes data from two focus groups. The twenty personal tutors are representative of a breadth of courses across the institution from Foundation Degree to Special Needs, teaching a range of subjects from Marine Science to Performing Arts. The focus groups represent new full-time and part–time trainees to the profession attending the Initial Teacher Training Course. The data was collected over two years from 2006, in a Further Education College in the South West of England called ‘Pendene’. Policy documents including Ofsted reports were also incorporated into the study as secondary data sources. In this research, I reveal that personal tutors at Pendene College were investing time and energy in the emotional lives of their students, in response to policy and practices related to retention and achievement which challenges the arguments from Ecclestone (2004), Furedi (2003) and Ecclestone and Hayes (2009) concerned with the expansion of therapy culture in Further Education. This significantly suggests a paradigmatic shift in the culture of pastoral care within the post-compulsory sector, one driven by the economics of retention. However, not all students were engaged in pastoral support and guidance and this study reveals a group labelled the ‘untutored’ who emerge as separate from those ‘needy’ students whom personal tutors support. Personal tutors were also ‘actors’ taking on different roles and analysing this process illuminated their propensity for engagement in emotional labour and labour processes within the hegemonic culture of Further Education.
PhD in Education