Education polity, England 2015: social justice and a ‘self-improving schools system’

Riddell, R (2014) Education polity, England 2015: social justice and a ‘self-improving schools system’. In: BERA Annual Conference, 23-25 September 2014, Institute of Education, London.

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Developing features of the English Education Polity since 2010 include the accelerating academy ‘conversion’ of primary and secondary schools (Gunter, 2012), and the parallel development of free schools (Benn, 2011). These have been accompanied by repeated repositionings of local authorities, formerly seen as key to improving opportunity (Deloitte, 2011; Pritchard, 2012, Brent Council, 2012), but now searching for a role. At the same time, organisations involved in or with the new schools, the sorts of non-state actors now prominent in education policy (Ball, 2010), speak with multiple voices and, with some exceptions (eg Coles, 2013), do not yet frame their discourse in systemic terms. This paper considers findings from a short series of interviews with key representatives in the developing polity: leaders in private sector organisations providing public services, academy chains, and organisations opposed to compulsory conversion. It compares the common and differing views across the sample with recent research and national policy documentation such as that articulated through the National College for Teaching and Leadership (Hargreaves, 2012). The paper argues that the notion of a self-improving school system reflects the developing logic of the state under the UK Coalition; genuine national aspirations for achieving greater social justice are seen as being largely realised through wider, undirected coalitions of the willing (Riddell, 2013). The paper reports innovative practice, but argues that, while the ‘system’ is still ‘steered’ (Ozga, 2009), achieving equity in educational outcomes remains as chancy as ever.

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Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2015 12:28
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:40
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