Working Paper

Teachers as agents of change: An exploration of the concept of teacher agency



Priestley M, Biesta GJJ & Robinson S (2012) Teachers as agents of change: An exploration of the concept of teacher agency.

The Teacher Agency and Curriculum Change project began in March 2011, and will run until May 2012. The project is conducted at the University of Stirling, in partnership with a Scottish Local Authority. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The research team is:  Dr Mark Priestley (Principal Investigator),  Professor Gert Biesta (Co-Investigator),  Dr Sarah Robinson (Research Fellow). The project comprises a number of in-depth ethnographic case studies in three Scottish schools (primary and secondary). The immediate context for the research is the implementation of Scotland's new Curriculum for Excellence, a policy that aims to change the structure, content and method of Scottish education, and which is an example of modern curricular reform in which teachers are explicitly positioned as agents of change. The project focuses on the ways in which and the extent to which experienced teachers achieve agency in their day to day working contexts, against the background of the introduction of the new curriculum, and on the factors that promote or inhibit such agency. The project has two key aims: to trial a set of methodologies for identifying the factors that impact upon teacher agency, to develop an understanding of key factors that impact upon such agency in contexts of educational change. This paper is one of a series of working papers being produced as part of the research. This, along with other working papers (as they become available) may be downloaded from the project website at

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
PublisherUniversity of Stirling
Publisher URL…cy-final_000.pdf

People (1)


Professor Mark Priestley

Professor Mark Priestley

Professor, Education

Projects (1)

Teacher agency and curriculum change