This article brings together two studies which contribute to the examination of the nature of professionalism in education by focusing on the perspectives of two under-researched groups namely 'teaching assistants' and teacher educators working 'either side' of the school teacher. The projects were conducted in, and framed by, the UK policy context of public sector modernization and cuts, and raise issues of relevance to international debates on notions of professionalism in education in a context of neo-liberal policy and austerity. The studies drew upon different approaches including autoethnography, life history and discourse analysis. The authors examine the formation and representation of professional identity in education through the discourses of 'professionalism' of teaching assistants and teacher educators. Professionalism is articulated through three themes in the accounts; 'non-standard' professional transformations, role ambiguity, and the role of classroom experience and higher education in the development of professional identities. Through these themes the perspectives of teaching assistants and teacher educators locate the notion of 'teacher professionalism' within a broader concept of professionalism in education providing alternatives to the discourse of imposed policy, and the authors reflect upon the ways in which these voices contribute to the wider international debate on professionalism in education. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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