Transcending systems thinking in education reform: implications for policy-makers and school leaders

Bates, A (2013) 'Transcending systems thinking in education reform: implications for policy-makers and school leaders.' Journal of Education Policy, 28 (1). pp. 38-54. ISSN 0268-0939

Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2012.684249

Abstract

Education policy-makers in the UK have repeatedly stated their central aim as transforming British education into a ‘world-class system’. Over the last 20 years, several large-scale education reforms have brought radical changes to the school curriculum, teacher professionalism and educational leadership. Explicit in these reforms, is the deployment of measurable standards of pupil attainment as a lever for achieving school improvement. However, despite this proliferation of policies, the claims to educational improvement made by policy-makers have been contested. Concerns about the unpredicted and damaging long-term effects of these policies can be linked to the limitations of systems thinking which underpins much of this education reform. A significant flaw of systems thinking is the level of simplification at which policy-makers operate on abstract categories such as standards, as if they were reality. Based on case study research conducted in two primary schools, this paper suggests that the systemic approach adopted by policy-makers may be contributing to an erosion of educational quality and placing potentially damaging expectations on children.

Item Type: Article
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A non-final version of this article is available at the URL below.

Keywords: systems thinking, standards, quality, public service, education reform
Divisions: School of Education
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2012.684249
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Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2021 14:02
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:57
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