Clare Martin, a fourth-year EdD student at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education, has recently had her first research journal article published by successfully reworking a paper she prepared for Part A of the EdD programme.

Her article, titled ‘From LSA to teacher: the value of classroom experience in shaping a ‘teacher’ identity’, is published in the SfL (Support for Learning) journal, published by the UK’s National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen). The article reports findings of her study which is an exploration of the role of classroom experience by support staff in shaping their subsequent identity and self-concept as teachers and investigates influences on identity development and the extent to which personal values are reconciled with professional demands and socially constructed facets of educational practice.

Routes into teacher training have expanded in recent years, accompanied by a growing interest in schools ‘growing their own’ teachers from amongst support staff. However, little attention has been paid to their transition to the role of teacher. To investigate this, qualitative data were obtained through an online survey and focus group discussion from nine staff in one secondary school for pupils with moderate learning difficulties who had undertaken the transition from LSA (learning support assistant) to teacher.

Findings showed that extensive opportunities to experiment with provisional and possible selves, immersion in educational discourse, classroom agency and staff collaboration engender a ‘teacher’ self-concept and positive motivations for LSA career development, and that self-esteem and self-efficacy are strengthened by how an individual’s values align with those of the setting in which they work. Findings may inform school leaders as to the value of training teachers ‘in-house’ and support career development decisions of LSAs, a pathway of potential significance given the current pressures on teacher recruitment and retention.

The article can be accessed here. (Subscription is required.)


About Clare

Clare’s research interests are special educational needs, inclusion, visual impairment and teacher change processes. Her thesis is centred on the inclusion of pupils with visual impairment and the impact this may have on the teaching and learning of others. Following the retirement of her original first supervisor (Prof. Jill Porter), Clare has since had Dr. Yota Dimitriadi and Dr. Anna Tsakalaki serving as her first and second supervisor respectively.

Clare currently combines her EdD research with a teaching role in a secondary special school and sessional university lecturing on special needs and inclusion. She is a qualified advisory teacher for the visually impaired.



Martin, C. (2020). From LSA to teacher: the value of classroom experience in shaping a ‘teacher’ identity. Support for Learning, 35(1), 23-42. doi: