‘Measuring a plant doesn’t help it to grow’: teacher’s perspectives on the standards agenda in England

Zeta Williams-Brown, Michael Jopling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reflects on the findings of two studies focused on teachers’ perspectives on the standards agenda. The original study was carried out in 2010–2011 and published in 2015 in Education 3–13 [Brown, Z., and K. Manktelow. 2015. “‘Perspectives on the Standards Agenda: Exploring the Agenda’s Impact on Primary Teachers’ Professional Identities.” Education 3-13 44 (1): 1–13]. The study was replicated in 2019 using the same methods to see if perspectives had changed almost a decade later. Q-methodology was used with UK primary school teachers to find commonalities of perspectives across the sample that may not have been apparent had more traditional data collection methods been used. The findings show that there remains a variation in perspectives on whether the standards outcomes provide constraint or flexibility. Teachers continue to hold negative positions and are frustrated by the importance placed on Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs). There was more resistance in the 2019 study to how the standards agenda has been translated into policy and the impact the tests have on children, especially those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. The paper concludes by critiquing the enduring use of SATs and suggests that the standards outcomes need to be rebalanced by focusing first and foremost on the wellbeing of all children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-240
Number of pages14
JournalEducation 3-13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020


  • education
  • primary
  • Standards agenda
  • teachers


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