Migrants becoming mathematics teachers : personal resources and professional capitals

Benson, Alan (2017) Migrants becoming mathematics teachers : personal resources and professional capitals. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This study traces the professional learning of student teachers who have lived and studied outside the UK, and successfully applied to follow a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course in London to become teachers of mathematics in English schools. It draws upon Bourdieu’s theory of habitus and field to discuss how these student teachers adapt their capitals, as described in migration studies by Erel (2010) and Nowicka (2015) and how, during initial teacher training (ITT), they develop professional capitals for the teaching of mathematics (Nolan, 2012). Recent migration flows have led to a growth of diversity, as measured by countries of origin, in London and other cities around the world, resulting in what Vertovec (2006) has called superdiversity. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with 16 PGCE student teachers hailing from 13 different countries, this study explores the implications of superdiversity for the practices of training teachers.

The focus of the research is on the complications of ‘bring[ing] off’ (MacLure, 2003:55) the embodied performance of becoming a teacher, and on how student teachers develop ‘enough’ (Blommaert and Varis, 2011:5) professional capital to pass the course. This leads to a reassessment of the category ‘highly skilled migrant’, which is used to define those who have academic qualifications for teaching from outside the UK. The study uses instead the term ‘highly qualified migrant’, to argue that a mathematical degree needs to be complemented by knowledge of the national mathematics curriculum, national pedagogies and local communicative resources. It shows how London can become an ‘escalator region’ (Fielding, 1992:1), as the student teachers achieve a working life that matches their academic qualifications, and also their own aspirations and those of their families, in the UK and elsewhere. In so doing, they become part of a teaching workforce that reflects the growing superdiversity of the region’s school pupils.

Benson,Alan - Thesis.pdf - Published Version

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