This paper draws from an international case study of Secondary English teachers in New South Wales (Australia) and in England where 33 in-depth interviews were conducted. The research investigated the impact of educational reform on teachers’ professionalism, their pedagogies, and their beliefs about the subject of English. It reports on participants’ responses to the question: “What visions do you have about subject English for future students?”
As English teachers experience increased pressures from a global reform agenda, their professional autonomy and pedagogical creativity are constrained. The prevailing focus on standardisation, measurement and narrow prescription challenges the rich ways in which the subject may be constructed. Within this context however, the teachers’ visions for what the study of English might achieve were clear and strong. They desired learners find pleasure in reading, be curious and agentic, spend time engaging critically with the world, and to be able to connect empathically with others. In challenging times, they recognised a need to enhance students’ individuality, responsiveness, and enjoyment. As they expressed their confident views and identified key features they hoped future students might experience, the teachers revealed what they personally value about subject English.