Original Research

Now and then: Revisiting early childhood teachers’ reactions to curriculum change

Mary G. Clasquin-Johnson
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 6, No 1 | a408 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v6i1.408 | © 2016 Mary G. Clasquin-Johnson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 March 2016 | Published: 25 November 2016

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Mary G. Clasquin-Johnson, Department of Inclusive Education, University of South Africa, South Africa

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This article reports on the findings of a study consisting of two phases. Both phases aimed at investigating how professional development, physical resources and instructional support influenced teachers’ responses to curriculum change. Despite more than 90% of Grade R teachers being under-qualified, they have had to implement two radically different curricula over the past decade. The initial study (‘Phase 1’), conducted in 2007–2010, investigated teachers’ responses to the National Curriculum Statement. The 2015 follow-up study (‘Phase 2’) focused on the same teachers, but the focus fell on the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements. The latter occurred in a drastically different context because of the improved monitoring and support systems. A qualitative case study design was employed within an interpretive paradigm. The findings of Phase 1 suggested that the teachers ignored, resisted, adopted and adapted curriculum change. Their highly individualised responses could be attributed to their professional isolation. In contrast, the findings of Phase 2 reveal policy fidelity because of their enhanced capacity to adopt curriculum change. Notably, curriculum implementation is presently occurring within a community of practice. This has the potential to be a catalyst for effecting curriculum change.


community of practice; curriculum change; early childhood teachers; Grade R; policy implementation; professional development; physical resources; instructional support; under-qualified teachers


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