Purposing the Curriculum
: An exploratory mixed-methods study of teachers' perspectives on curriculum-making in English primary schools.

  • Samantha J Newbon

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This thesis explores teachers’ perceptions of current curriculum processes and practices to provide fresh insights into how primary school teachers in England understand and mediate the practical complexities of their curriculum work regarding the pupil outcomes they seek to achieve.
Taking a pragmatic stance, a convergent mixed-methods approach was used to gather quantitative and qualitative data from questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The questionnaire data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Interview data was thematically analysed using inductive and deductive approaches.
The quantitative findings indicate a shared understanding amongst primary teachers about their valued practice and what constitutes good pupil outcomes. Surveyed teachers appeared to prioritise pupils’ learning and well-being needs over other curriculum demands in ways that focus on developing individual competencies rather than responding to emerging societal concerns. The qualitative interviews provided a nuanced understanding of teachers’ engagement in curriculum-making. Participation in knowledge-sharing and opportunities for professional learning were generally limited and perceived to be constraining influences on teachers’ curriculum-making regarding enacting reforms.
The thesis concludes that teachers should accept the transformative view of their role, which enables teachers as active and innovative curriculum-makers.
Date of Award23 Jan 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorSally M Thomas (Supervisor) & Nicola Warren-Lee (Supervisor)

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