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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teacher turf wars : a case study of the impacts of intra-school competition on elective teachers in British Columbia’s public schools Pirbhai, Mariam


This qualitative study explored the impacts of heightened intra-school competition between elective teachers in three public secondary schools in British Columbia (BC). This study used semi-structured interview data from seven secondary school elective teachers from three secondary schools within one BC school district to explore how teachers perceive and respond to intra-school competition. The BC Liberal government introduced neoliberal policies in 2002 in the BC public school system through the School Amendment Act of 2002 (Bill 34) legislation. Changes included giving parents and students the right to choose to attend any school or program beyond their neighborhood catchment area, provided that there is availability, providing public accountability, establishing greater school board autonomy, and allowing for the creation of for-profit school board companies. The findings show that all of the teachers interviewed felt that they were in competition with their colleagues for student enrolment, regardless of whether or not they chose to actively engage in competitive practices. The majority of the teachers interviewed chose to market their programs to their students. The teachers interviewed did not feel that competition impacted their teaching practices, as they believed that they strived to engage their students due to their own personal motivations rather than through competition. Teachers were keen to protect their specialty area and skeptically viewed new course offerings that may infringe on their area of teaching. Despite the competitive environment, overall teachers did not find that competition for student enrolment impacted their relationships with their colleagues. This study sheds light on how teachers compete and market their courses to drive their course enrolment in the competitive environment that they experience in their schools. This study also illustrates how teachers may act out of self-interest to protect their teaching interests, so that they can continue to teach the courses that they believe are of value to their students and society.

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