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Employment contracts for teachers as professional employees

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In England and Canada there is a ‘professional’ nuance to teachers’ employment. Jurisprudence in both countries suggests a deliberate expansion of what reasonable expectations education employers have of their teacher employees. Teachers’ claim to professional status forms the basis for this expansion of teachers’ duties. The function of this long-held interpretation constitutes a further step in the contractualisation of teachers’ work. A hallmark of reforms dating back to the 1970s has been the increasing prescription of teachers work, a point which remains at odds with the claimed professional status. The age of the relevant cases hints that contractual flexibility has been a tool during times of reform. The result is that teachers’ employment contracts are understood as professional-level contracts, which means (to the courts) that not all duties must be spelled out in the contract. In fact, professional-level contracts cannot possibly include such an itemisation. Teachers are left with a series of lost decisions which reinforce not only their professional status (though in an unintended manner), but also unequivocally identify them as employees who are expected to follow all reasonable expectations of their education employers.

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