Inside the English education lab

critical qualitative and ethnographic perspectives on the academies experiment

Inside the English education lab shows how critical qualitative methodologies work to illuminate and interrogate the everyday life of England’s privatised educational landscape. England has garnered a global reputation as a key proponent of education policy reforms defined by high-stakes accountability, claims of greater school autonomy and a centralised governance structure. Qualitative and ethnographic methods with their focus on practices unfolding over time and across particular situated spaces considers academisation in ways that depart from benchmarks and Ofsted ratings. The collection counters academisation’s contradictory assertion that quantitative data is the singular measure of value. The book makes a pivotal contribution to gauging some of the social and cultural effects of academisation through its reflexive focus on the practical ambiguities and incongruities that result as policy translates into practice. It explores how academisation (re)positions policies and publics through new modes of governance, it examines strategies employed by students and teachers in situ, and interrogates how institutions are being produced through space, discourse and practice. This is the first book to bring together innovative new qualitative research on academies and free schools by early career academics. The research traverses numerous geographical and social contexts within England. It provides a valuable viewpoint that reaches beyond policy claims and rhetoric by focusing on the everyday and often ambiguous practices operating within England’s rapidly academising education system.

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