Katie Blood
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The great education ‘permanent revolution’? Shape-shifting academies and degrees of change (and ‘success’)
in Inside the English education lab
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This chapter, consisting of ethnographic fieldwork, explores a newly converted academy having replaced a former ‘failing’ school situated in a marginalised town in the Midlands. Through its ethnographic methodological approach, the study mobilises Bourdieu’s conceptual tools to examine the everyday lived experiences of the academy’s staff and its working-class students. While claims have been made that the academy programme is indeed ‘working miracles’ (Cameron, 2012) in regard to facilitating ‘successful’ outcomes in marginalised locales, findings from this academy identify that the relatively unchanged social milieu in which the academy is situated remains formative in the imagined futures of its students. Thus, when the academy and policy expectations come up against the localised material and economic realities, the transformative impact of the academy, while offering beneficial forms of capital, remains limited. The research therefore underscores the necessity that when questioning whether the academy agenda can and does act as a generative force in terms of social justice one must explore each academy individually through a unique contextual lens. The chapter continues by arguing that the more meritocratic discourses and authoritarian modes of governance found within the academies programme, including at this academy, can be said to have preceded much of the more explicitly authoritarian turn we are currently witnessing in broader politics.

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Inside the English education lab

critical qualitative and ethnographic perspectives on the academies experiment

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