An exploration of the influence of school context, ethos and culture on teacher career-stage professional learning

Christine Furner, Norman McCulla*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    School ethos and culture, and their influence on teacher career-stage learning, are integral yet often overlooked components of school-based professional development planning. An in-depth study was conducted over two years within and across three independent schools in Sydney, Australia utilising a collegial methodology centred on principles of action research and focused on continuous school improvement. It revealed how specific school contexts have a substantial and differential impact on teacher learning across all career stages from neophyte to principal. Each school’s ethos and culture were seen to produce a distinctive teacher learning culture that subsequently influenced whole-school planning for, and participation in, teacher professional development. Teacher growth, well-being and job satisfaction were integrally related to ethos and culture and further influenced by the specific characteristics of the career stage of the teachers and school executive involved. The study gave further insights as to how the nature of teacher learning changes according to career stage. It was evident from the study that, for teachers, the school that they are in has a sizable impact on the nature of their professional learning and how they develop differentially at each stage of their career path trajectories.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)505-519
    Number of pages15
    JournalProfessional Development in Education
    Issue number3
    Early online date23 Jan 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019


    • teacher learning
    • school ethos
    • school culture
    • teacher career stages
    • teacher professional development


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