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Introduction – A time and a place
Doing critical qualitative and ethnographic work across an academised educational landscape
in Inside the English education lab
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This introduction explores the evolution and exponential growth of the academies programme as both a policy and social intervention over past 12 years. The chapter covers the development of the Multi-Academy Trust framework and how Local Authorities are remade. Through this process, historical moral panics around education provision and Thatcherite reforms are revisited and tied to an increasingly authoritarian present. The rationales used to support academisation are fluctuating and highly contingent, as the chapter explores how academisation ties to neoliberalism as it relocates schools from the public sphere to a less accessible patchwork of privatised spaces while also claiming to promote social justice. England displays a hyper-realised version of a wider international policy reform movement, whereby this reform strategy relies on evidencing continual progress through comparable quantifiable data presented as objective and neutral. This chapter emphasises how the book steers away from reductive quantitative measures to train its focus on a careful qualitative attention to the everyday life of academy schools across England. The chapter interrogates how knowledge is produced and attempts to destabilise dominant narratives by highlighting how critical qualitative and ethnographic methodologies can yield crucial insights into the project of academisation.

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Inside the English education lab

critical qualitative and ethnographic perspectives on the academies experiment

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