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Why the McKinsey reports will not improve school systems

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Abstract

In the last four years McKinsey and Company have produced two highly influential reports on how to improve school systems. The first McKinsey report How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top has since its publication in 2007 been used to justify change in educational policy and practice in England and many other countries. The second How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better, released in late 2010, is a more substantial tome which is likely to have an even greater impact. This article subjects both reports to a close examination and finds them deficient in 10 respects. The detailed critique is preceded by a few general remarks about their reception, influence and main arguments.

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... In societies across the world, "experts", or people who claim expertise, of various kinds (e.g. researchers in education, economists, sociologists, teachers, employees in ideological think tanks, philosophers, parents) on multiple levels (local, national, international) provide advice and reported evidence of "what works" 5 to policymakers and practitioners working in education (Coffield 2012, Verger, Steiner-Khamsi, and Lubienski 2017, Zapp, Marques, and Powell 2018, including teacher education policy , Helgetun and Menter 2020. How these stakeholders and experts gain access to influence policy, depends on the configurations of relevant organizational fields, and deep held beliefs on the right of different actors to express themselves located in institutionalized environments. ...
... This is something of a spiral as the earlier CPD themes in the 1980s were as mentioned in Chapter 5, the re-training of teachers to overcome shortages in some subjects. 221 For a harsh critique of the use of this report, see Coffield (2012) ...
... With this increase of transnational actors,Resnik (2006) argued that international organizations have become agents in a global education arena, where they act as producers of a global educational culture. In this paradigm centred on a global or globalizing educational culture and rise in international organizations influence in education, "public" 67 actors such as the OECD, UNESCO, and the EU, as well as "private" 68 actors such as McKinsey, ARK (see Chapter 6), and even historically defence oriented organizations such as RAND 69 and Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) 70 attempt to influence how teachers should be educated mainly through diffusing scripts of "what works", and are reported to have the ears of people in high places(Saunders 2007, Alexander 2010, Coffield 2012, Tröhler 2013, Tatto and Furlong 2015, Knafo 2019. In other words, teacher education is becoming a global policy area, where both public and private national and international actors alike contest practices and propose solutions to problems. ...
Thesis
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This dissertation aims to explain through “contrasting-comparison” the teacher education policymaking processes in the “educative-states” England and France. Through a comprehensive neo- institutionalist conceptual framework the analysis tracks changes from 1980s to the present. In this period, teacher education has moved in England from a fractured academia centred system to a mosaic school-led system, and in France from a highly segmented form of initial teacher education provision with limited university involvement, towards increasing harmonization and structured university involvement in all facets of teacher education. The four main foci of the thesis are the characteristics of the institutionalized environments and organizational fields of the two cases, the increase in claims to possess “evidence of what works” by actors in (teacher) education, the socio-historical roots of the two cases current systems of teacher education and discursive practices (rationalisations), and how we can characterise change in their policy trajectories. The result of these cases‘ contrasting trajectories, and the subsequent different compositions of their organizational fields, is a much higher degree of academia based teacher educator access to influencing teacher education policymaking in France than in England. However, at present, in both cases, the central state is the dominant actor in teacher education, and all other actors must relate to its norms and structuring coercive force. Additionally, major change has happened in the teacher education fields in both cases, as the structures of provision has been altered. However, old tensions centred on the role of research and theory versus the role of practical experience remain central in both cases. The current practices, I argue, are in England rooted in a gradual imposition of the politico- administrative field and institutionalized environment of the state on the teacher education field and environment due to cognitive blueprints centred on accountability through standards and measurement in (teacher) education that began in structural terms in 1984, and in discursive form in the 1960s. As a result of this, “evidence”, predominantly in the form of quantifiable data, has become the central tool of policymaking, while the dominant normative voice in teacher education has shifted from academia to high performing school leaders. The main theoretical insights granted by analysing these changes in England are that the transformative power of overlapping fields rest in the imposition of new norms, coercive tools, and cognitive-blueprints that may occur from one field to the other and the osmosis of ideas and ideations as the joining of fields bring different institutionalized environments into direct contact with each other. In France, the central characteristics of teacher education policymaking are the strong normative position of the state granted through path dependence from the values of the French revolution, the rationalised myth of state meritocracy and Jacobinism, and a close integration of state and education since the 19th century. The outcome of the French trajectory is an apparently static system, with some incremental changes that is mainly characterised by a singular event of drastic transformation, namely the creation of the IUFM in 1989. All subsequent policies have been predominantly aimed at implementing the vision of the IUFM. The changes brought new complications to the relation between teacher education and the university, however, the teacher education field is also lacking in a dominant voice as multiple actors all enjoy a right to be heard. Meanwhile, the state approach to policymaking remains centred on “experts-as-evidence” where professionals with a recognised authority to speak on education remain the primary sources of “what works”. A central theoretical insight here is how long-held beliefs can ossify and become structuring myths that are taken for granted by all major actors, rendering an environment static in its scope of possible ideations, but sufficient contestation centred on perceived shortfalls and clear solutions may create conditions for change that has transformative implications for multiple organizational fields.
... Since the publication of the McKinsey reports (MR) in 2007 and 2010, education reforms around the world placed their focus on the quality of teachers (Coffield, 2012), with an emphasis on the use of data to manage their performance (Aud and Morris, 2014). The concept of good teaching is hence "reconfigured within a new scientificity as a clinical practice of standardised knowledge, and prescriptive knower dispositions" (Mooney, Moles and O'Grady, 2016, p. 1). ...
... The concept of good teaching is hence "reconfigured within a new scientificity as a clinical practice of standardised knowledge, and prescriptive knower dispositions" (Mooney, Moles and O'Grady, 2016, p. 1). Scholars like Coffield (2012) are, nonetheless, pessimistic that such policy frameworks will contribute to improving school systems, given the problematic assumptions behind that narrative. For him "the authors [of the MR] adhere to the acquisition model of learning, where the minds of learners are viewed as containers to be filled with knowledge" (Coffield, 2012, p. 140). ...
... Evidence, he further argues, suggests that (at least for the case of England) most of the differences in the performance of students in exams is explained by their background, and not by the ability of instructors to deliver knowledge. 1 Consequently, he contends, "the belief in one right approach to teaching needs to be rejected" (Coffield, 2012). ...
Article
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This paper discusses the role of classroom observations in informing debates on the quality of teaching and learning in secondary education. Specifically, the document proposes a methodology for classroom observation in context (CoC) to address many of the epistemological limitations of mainstream input-output observation models in relation to the professionalisation of educators. To observe in context entails working with a non-structured observation strategy to identify patterns in classroom events and the subsequent opening of spaces for collaborative dialogues (among observers and between observes and observees) to reflect about the potential mechanisms behind these patterns. The results of an exploratory study of CoC in Northern Colombia indicate the potential of such a strategy in informing education policy debates beyond the classroom setting.
... En el discurso de la excelencia docente, por ejemplo, existe la expectativa de que la elección de candidatos con (ciertas) credenciales académicas garantizará -o será el determinantedel desempeño escolar agregado de un colegio, una ciudad o un país (Parra, 2018). El problema de esta generalización, más allá de su limitado soporte empírico (Zhao, 2020;Tikly, 2015, Coffield, 2012, es que, si se medita con calma, carece de sentido. Es apenas intuitivo suponer que la buena docencia depende de distintos factores, como al ambiente (ej. ...
... Es apenas intuitivo suponer que la buena docencia depende de distintos factores, como al ambiente (ej. material, cultural) en el que se lleve a cabo o la disposición y motivación de educadores y estudiantes de asumir un proceso de aprendizaje (Coffield, 2012). Es decir, la calidad individual docente es importarte, pero su incidencia estará siempre condicionada por su nivel de adaptación al entorno donde se despliega. ...
Article
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Se presenta una reseña crítica del libro Systems Thinking for School Leaders. Holistic Leadership for Excellence in Education de Haim Shaked y Chen Schechter. Este trabajo, publicado en 2017, presenta una mirada novedosa del liderazgo escolar desde el paradigma del Pensamiento de Sis-temas. Su contenido, más que ser prescriptivo, invita a replantear el papel de rectoras y rectores como actores de un sistema complejo y adaptativo. La reflexión sobre los contenidos y apartes del texto es complementada con apuntes sobre retos contemporáneos de la denominada gestión educativa en un país como Colombia.
... Any such analysis must recognise the dangers in comparing different systems, especially given the complex cultural and contextual differences that exist between countries. 27 It is also important to recognise that school and education-specific reforms can only make so much difference, and so must sit within a wider integrated, long-term approach to addressing disadvantage spanning multiple areas of public policy. 28 Nevertheless, there is value in asking how and why different systems perform differently in these important areas and what the implications might be for England. ...
Article
This report considers the performance of disadvantaged students and the size of the "disadvantage gap" in English education; how this compares with other advanced countries; and the factors that might explain England's relative performance based on a review of literature and international practices. The definition of ‘disadvantaged pupils’ in England, used in the report, is those eligible for Free School Meals (FSM). As this measure relates to pupils in England only, we estimate a similar group of disadvantaged pupils in other countries using the Economic, Social and Cultural Status (ESCS) index used in the PISA 2015 study. Using these estimations, we find that England has an FSM rate of 10.5 per cent, the 8th lowest of all countries included in this study. The gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in England in mathematics is equivalent to one whole GCSE grade. This places England at 27 out of 44 jurisdictions in terms of the size of the socio-economic gap. In reading, the gap is around three-quarters of a GCSE grade (0.76) and around the average of all other countries in the report.
... More importantly, McKinsey reports (Barber & Mourshed, 2007;Mourshed et al., 2010) claimed that their international comparisons identified solutions that would work in any context. These reports garnered wide publicity and spurred educational change across a variety of contexts despite the flaws in their assumptions, methodologies, and treatment of evidence (Coffield, 2012). ...
Chapter
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Teacher education has long been considered the provenance of national governments. With a shift in the roles of states, regional coalitions, and international organizations, new policy actors have begun to influence teacher education reforms. One element of this shifting governance is the role of intermediary organizations (IO) – think tanks, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, as well as research institutes – in constructing, circulating, and disseminating knowledge for teacher education policies. Operating in the shadows, these groups and policy entrepreneurs have had growing influence on reconceptualizing teaching and teacher education across the world. Their influences have affected constructions of what constitutes sufficient professional preparation, such as modules or microcredentials, and even the models for ensuring the buy-in for teacher education reforms, such as deliverology. Policy discourses produced by intermediary organizations gain traction because of decontextualized proposals they promote and resource support from venture philanthropies they receive. Even though the IO involvement in the development of teacher education policies may not always be visible to outsiders, they operate as a globalizing force around the world.
... From the first to the second report, the attention shifted from studying the world champions of standardized tests to the champions of improvement in education. The publication had such an impact that it became one of the most cited and influential reports in international educational policies (Coffield, 2012). ...
Article
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Understanding what contributes to improving a system will help us tackle the problems in education systems that usually fail disproportionately in providing quality education for all, especially for the most disadvantage sectors of the population. This paper presents the results of a qualitative systematic literature review aimed at providing a comprehensive overview of what education research can say about the factors that promote education systems’ improvement. This literature is emerging as a topic of empirical research that merges comparative education and school effectiveness studies as standardized assessments make it possible to compare results across systems and time. To examine and synthesize the papers included in this review we followed a thematic analysis approach. We identify, analyze, and report patterns in the papers included in this systematic review. From the coding process, four drivers for system improvement emerged: (1) system-wide approaches; (2) human capital; (3) governance and macro–micro level bridges; and (4) availability of resources.
... These assessments are also used often for justification of donor-driven policies, as they supposedly could help to identify the factors leading countries to outperform education systems elsewhere. Various policy and business entrepreneurs enter the policy-making stage by producing reports based on large-scale data (Coffield, 2012;Takayama, 2012). These reports tend to be quite popular in decision-making circles, as they provide legitimacy to the already chosen policy solutions through the repertoire of 'best practices' of the 'top performing countries'. ...
Chapter
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This chapter provides a gateway to understanding some rationales and policy adoption strategies of policy actors in the post-Soviet space. Georgia and Latvia have introduced a similar approach of calculating general education finances on a per capita basis. However, nuanced examination of this development shows that as the policy problems differed in these countries, so did the implementation of policy solutions. In Georgia, per capita funding was an integral part of the large-scale education reform package that promised an increase in the transparency, effectiveness and fair distribution of funds through introduction of a market-based school funding system. In Latvia, the introduction of the per capita funding system served more a ceremonial purpose to secure international donor funding during a time of crisis. Both countries used the strategies of externalisation of the arguments, drawing upon success stories from abroad. However, both countries also constructed internal arguments drawing upon the negative conception of the Soviet legacy in education.
... In more recent years, the OECD has also begun a more targeted approach to understanding In this paradigm centered on a global or globalizing educational culture and rise in international organizations influence in education, "public" actors such as the OECD, UNESCO, and the EU, as well as "private" actors such as McKinsey, ARK, and even historically defense oriented organizations such as RAND and Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) attempt to influence how teachers should be educated mainly through diffusing scripts of "what works", and are reported to have the ears of people in high places (Saunders 2007, Alexander 2010, Coffield 2012, Tröhler 2013. In other words, teacher education is becoming a global policy area, where both public and private national and international actors alike contest practices and propose solutions to problems. ...
Chapter
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This chapter, under the format of an essay, discusses the importance of context in comparative education analysis and for understanding teacher education policy. It looks at the global context from the age of enlightenment to the age of PISA and TALIS, the regional context of the Bologna Process and European integration, and the local context of teacher education in England and France. This essay, rich in references to the current cannon in teacher education analysis, can be seen as providing an overview of, and entry point for, scholars who desire further knowledge on the interaction between the global and the local in teacher education.
... For example, the State Report Cards 2016-2017 in India's District Information System for Education reported on 977 distinct figures, none of which was a direct measure of student learning (Pritchett,10 It is also worth noting that there has been pushback against the idea of universal best practices that can improve education across all contexts (e.g. Coffield (2012), critiquing McKinsey's oft-cited education reports; Sellar and Lingard (2013), on the OECD's influence on educational governance). These critiques are supported by arguments in public policy and development studies about the importance of identifying context-specific mechanisms for achieving desired changes, especially when these changes require shifts in people's behaviour or decision-making (Pawson and Tilley, 1997;Cartwright and Hardie, 2012;Bates and Glennerster, 2017;Monaghan and King, 2018;Williams, 2020). ...
Article
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There is increasing interest in measuring management in schools. This paper discusses a popular measurement tool: the World Management Survey (WMS) for schools. Drawing on WMS data, secondary sources, and the recent literature on school management, we take stock of the WMS and make recommendations for its use in future research and policy. We conclude that the WMS remains a highly useful tool for its stated purpose—the standardized measurement of (a subset of) management practices within schools—and make two sets of recommendations. First, we encourage those seeking to benchmark management practices in schools to take a systems perspective by extending the WMS approach upwards into the education bureaucracy. Second, when measuring practices within schools, we recommend that researchers consider: how best to assess alignment across practices in the operations domain; the challenge of measuring student learning for monitoring and target-setting; and the context specificity of people management.
... Ball, 2009;Gunter & Mills, 2017). Rapporten av McKinsey & Company (Barber et al., 2010) har blivit kritiserad bland annat på grund av att den har en tunn evidensbas, en utarmad syn på lärande och undervisning och att kulturens roll är bagatelliserad (Coffield, 2012). ...
Article
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Inom ramen för det svenska decentraliserade skolsystemet har ansvaret för att bygga upp, utveckla och bedriva ett systematiskt kvalitetsarbete i första hand varit en fråga för huvudmän och skolor att hantera. I ljuset av en ökad re-centralisering av skolan har uppbyggandet av olika kvalitetssystem för uppföljning och kontroll av skolornas resultat också kommit att utgöra ett viktigt sätt för huvudmannen att styra skolan på. I studien benämns detta i termer av kvalitetsstyrning. I och med Samverkan för bästa skola har dessa gränsdragningar mellan det lokala och det nationella kommit att utmanas. Studien bygger på intervjudata inhämtad på fyra skolor som deltar i Samverkan för bästa skola, från skolförvaltningen i samma kommun samt genom intervju med en representant från Skolverket. Utifrån begreppen löst kopplade system och organisatoriska rutiner studeras vad som karaktäriserar den nationella respektive den kommunala kvalitetsstyrningen samt vad som sker i mötet dem emellan på skolor som genomgår insatser inom ramen för Samverkan för bästa skola, samt med vilka konsekvenser. Resultatet av studien visar bland annat på att idéer och metoder om databaserad skolutveckling utgör viktiga legitimitetsgrunder för såväl den kommunala som den nationella kvalitetsstyrningen. Den nationella kvalitetsstyrningen via Samverkan för bästa skola är dock betydligt mer intensifierad och når längre in i skolornas organisation.
... Closely associated with such adoption of new public management techniques, a further expression of privatisation in the EC's education governance concerns that the globally influential 'McKinsey report' (Barber and Mourshed 2007, see Coffield 2012 for a substantial critique), written by the British policy entrepreneur Michael Barber, was issued during the period when the EU school policy was launched. This report was a common reference in EC documents in subsequent years. ...
Research
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Final report from the project "Social dialogue and industrial relations in education: the challenges of multi-level governance and of privatisation in Europe". The project (2020-2021) was funded by the European Commission Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and it was coordinated by European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE). The research was undertaken by a consortium consisting of UC Louvain, University of Naples Federico II and the University of Warsaw.
... One of the limitations of reform outcomes analyses is that they are mostly described by those closely involved in its design and implementation as opposed to external evaluators. The McKinsey report which analyzed and helped popularize the reform success has been criticized for citing little psychological and sociological research on learning and teaching in their analysis of nations' educational attainment (Coffield, 2012). While academic expertise was a critical part of the reform strategy and implementation, buy-in from teachers and parents was a significant motivator in starting reform efforts. ...
Chapter
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The education system of the province of Ontario, Canada ranks among the best in the world and has been touted as a model of excellence for other countries seeking to improve their education system. In a system-wide reform, leaders used a political and professional perspective to improve student performance on basic academic skills. The school system rose to renown after this reform which moved Ontario from a “good” system in 2000 to a “great” one between 2003 and 2010 (Mourshed M, Chijioke C, Barber M. How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better, a report McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/social-sector/our-insights/how-the-worlds-most-improved-school-systems-keep-getting-better , (2010)). Premier Dalton McGuinty arrived in office in 2003 with education as his priority and was dubbed the “Education Premier” because of this mandate. His plan for reform had two primary goals: to improve student literacy and numeracy, and to increase secondary school graduation rates. McGuinty also wanted to rebuild public trust that had been damaged under the previous administration. The essential element of Ontario’s approach to education reform was allowing educators to develop their own plans for improvement. Giving responsibility and freedom to educators was critical in improving professional norms and accountability among teachers (Mourshed M, Chijioke C, Barber M. How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better, a report McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/social-sector/our-insights/how-the-worlds-most-improved-school-systems-keep-getting-better , (2010)) and the sustained political leadership throughout the entire reform concluding in 2013 provided an extended trajectory for implementing and adjusting learning initiatives. The Ministry of Education’s Student Achievement Division, which was responsible for designing and implementing strategies for student success, took a flexible “learning as we go” attitude in which the reform strategy adapted and improved over time (Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group. The Ontario student achievement division student success strategy evidence of improvement study. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/research/EvidenceOfImprovementStudy.pdf , (2014)). This chapter will discuss influences on the reform design and key components of strategies to support student and teacher development and build a relationship of accountability and trust among teachers, the government and the public. The successes and shortcomings of this reform will be discussed in the context of their role in creating a foundation for the province’s next steps towards fostering twenty-first century competencies in classrooms.
... There are several reasons why PISA lends itself to substantiate policy decisions in debates: First, a common line of thinking assumes that differences in PISA results are primarily attributable to educational policies. This line of thinking, also referred to as 'PISA reasoning' (Feniger and Lefstein 2014), remains prevalent among policy makers although it has been widely criticised (Alexander 2012a(Alexander , 2012bCoffield 2012): While the PISA studies show factors that correlate with good student performance, they do not claim causality between PISA test results and educational policy. ...
Conference Paper
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This article examines how references to evaluations in school policy debates contribute to discourse quality. The article consists of two parts: First, it presents a descriptive overview of the references to evidence in direct-democratic campaigns. These results are based on a quantitative content analysis of the newspaper coverage and governmental information documents of 103 direct-democratic Swiss school policy votes. In a second step, it discusses these findings in view of the question of whether the incorporation of evaluation results in policy debates contributes to discourse quality. It presents a conceptual framework, including hypotheses and a research design to answer this question.
... They are commissioned by governments to produce 'research' reports, which invariably either recycle research based on standardised tests, or comprise their own 'research' which almost solely references other consultants and think tanks to substantiate their 'fndings' (Barber & Mourshed, 2007;Mourshed, Chijioke & Barber, 2010). In this way, the neoliberal policy regime creates a closed loop of knowledge that justifes and reaffrms the logic upon which it is based (Coffeld, 2012). ...
... An instrumental approach is problematic as a first step, however. Such an approach may fail to account for context-specific aspects of an institution and how these combine to produce particular experiences (Coffield, 2012;Deneen, 2014). We argue that a prior, necessary step requires examining the contexts and frameworks in which policies, procedures, freedoms and innovation are enacted. ...
Article
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Freedom to innovate in teaching and learning are essential to meaningful higher education. Universities’ rhetorical commitments to freedom and innovation are ubiquitous and quite homogenous. Beneath the rhetoric, however, lie sharp divides between neo-liberal and Humboldtian approaches to innovation, course design, teaching and learning. This article argues that to understand the authentic approach of a university to innovation requires going beyond the rhetoric. We must instead examine context-specific experiences and understandings of the curriculum, especially in terms of teaching, learning, assessment and evaluation. Making this critical examination, we see that Humboldtian frameworks rely on broad understandings of value connected to learners and their communities. Neoliberal frameworks by contrast reduce and essentialise these understandings to customer service provision. Treating students as customers has significant implications for how innovation is defined and enacted through increasing aversion to the risks inherent to attempting innovation. Quality evaluation and assurance processes inevitably align with an institution’s authentic approach, regardless of what rhetorical commitments suggest. The article concludes by suggesting ways forward grounded in teaching, learning and evaluation. These are congruent with a Humboldtian approach and may, through their application bring the rhetoric of teaching and learning innovation into alignment with experienced reality.
... the EU, as well as "private" 30 actors such as McKinsey, ARK, and even RAND and DARPA attempt to influence how teachers should be educated mainly through pushing scripts of "what works", and are reported to have the ears of people in high places (Alexander, 2010;Coffield, 2012;Knafo, 2019;Saunders, 2007;Tatto & Furlong, 2015;Tröhler, 2013). In other words, teacher education is becoming a global policy area, where both public and private national and international actors alike contest practices and propose solutions to problems. ...
Preprint
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The purpose of the chapter is to provide an historic account rooted in critical literature review and supplementary empirical observations, to analyse the foundational ideas, logics, and myths of the two states at their modern inception in the 17th and 18th centuries, the state-education link in the two cases over time, and the evolving state administration of teacher education and provision of teacher education since the 18th century. This analysis bridges into the subsequent chapters rooted in more fine grained empirical observations of the period 1976-2020 (England) and 1982-2020 (France), by providing the longer historical trajectories of relevance and illuminating the undelaying taken for granted rationalizations and philosophies guiding behaviour in both cases. Such a level of analysis and contextualization is often argued to be central for any education related analyses, including education policy (Alexander 2001, Crossley and Watson 2003), and form a key part of the analysis undertaken in this thesis by framing and contextualizing the research. Education, including teacher education, is without much doubt a central component of public policy in both England and France (Foster 1999, Alexander 2001), if for no other reason than the size of the education workforce and the recognised importance of education in modern societies (Tröhler 2014). On the one hand, as this chapter will show, the concept of the educative state, and thus the place of education in public policy, is more central in France than in England, having been around since the late 18th century. On the other hand, even England which is considered a latecomer in the drive for “state centred” education, has taken up the mantle of public education as an integral part of public policy and a social right (Alexander 2001), and is “catching up” in some respect to the state-centred education focus of France. An important pivot point in this regard was the 1944 Education Act where the previous Board of Education was replaced by a Minister of Education who was to directly oversee Local Education Authorities (LEAS), followed by the 1964 creation of a Department of Education and Science with a full Secretary of State responsible for education (Jones 2016). Meanwhile, France has a long history of state intervention in Education dating back to the first revolution in 1789
... 1.1.1 Entry points of the research and the importance of studying the effect of organizational fields and institutionalized environments on teacher education policymaking "Experts" of various kinds (e.g., researchers in education, economists, sociologists, teachers, ideological think tanks, philosophers, parents) on multiple levels (local, national, international) provide expert advice and reported evidence of "what works" to policymakers working on education (Coffield 2012, Zapp, Helgetun et al. 2018, Zapp, Marques et al. 2018), including teacher education policy (Menter 2016, Helgetun andMenter 2020). Thus, one may infer that education policymaking is becoming a large organizational field with multiple voices on different levels on how education is to be done. ...
Preprint
Summary of thesis This thesis aims to explain through “contrasting-comparison” the teacher education policymaking processes in the “educative-states” England and France. The analysis tracks changes from 1980s to the current time as teacher education has moved in England from a fractured academia centred system to a mosaic school-led system, and in France from a highly segmented form of initial teacher education provision with limited university involvement, towards increasing harmonization and structured university involvement in all facets of teacher education through a comprehensive neo-institutionalist conceptual framework. The four main foci of the thesis are the characteristics of the institutionalized environments and organizational fields of the two cases, the increase in claims to possess “evidence of what works” by actors in (teacher) education, the socio-historical roots of the two cases current systems of teacher education and discursive practices (rationalisations), and how we can characterise change in their policy trajectories. Major change has happened in the teacher education fields in both cases, as the structures of provision has been altered, however, old tensions centred on the role of research versus the role of the practical remain central in both cases. The result of these cases‘ contrasting trajectories, and the subsequent different compositions of their organizational fields, is a much higher degree of academia based teacher educator access to influencing teacher education policymaking in France than in England. However, at present, in both cases, the central state is the dominant actor in teacher education, and all other actors must relate to it and its structuring coercive force. This, I argue, is in England rooted in a gradual imposition of the politico-administrative field and institutionalized environment of the state on the teacher education field and environment in England due to cognitive blueprints centred on accountability through standards and measurement in (teacher) education that began in structural terms in 1984, and in discursive form in the 1960s. The main theoretical insights granted by analysing these changes in England are that the transformative power of overlapping fields rest in the imposition of new norms, coercive tools, and cognitive-blueprints that may occur from one field to the other and the osmosis of ideas and ideations as the joining of fields bring different institutionalized environments into direct contact with each other. In France, the central characteristics of teacher education policymaking are the strong normative position of the state granted through path dependence from the values of the French revolution, the rationalised myth of state meritocracy and Jacobinism, and a close integration of state and education since the 19th century. A central theoretical insight here is how long-held beliefs can ossify and become structuring myths that are taken for granted by all major actors, rendering an environment static in its scope of possible ideations. The core of the general thesis is that the configurations of organizational fields and institutionalized environments structure policymaking, while understanding how requires the analysis of six aspects of these fields and environments at multiple levels. Meanwhile, it is argued that a change in policy and policymaking, as observed here, is neither better nor worse than what came before, only different. Hence, change in policy cannot be conceptually related to a fixed linear trajectory, because it does not go from one place to another. Instead change is an altering of a state of being without an end-state as any ultimate destination
... no han faltado, con todo, críticas severas que la califican de simplificadora y, además, sesgada e instrumental: obedece a una agenda que al poner el foco preferentemente sobre responsabilidades particulares (abajo), trata de ocultar y eludir (arriba) otras más profundas y poderosas, estructurales y sistémicas. también hay otros discursos que confieren a las fuerzas hegemónicas macro tales y tan determinantes influencias que terminan por minimizar e incluso despreciar, por irrelevantes, los márgenes de contestación y posibilidad de la educación, los docentes y la formación (Coffield, 2012). ...
... There is a considerable amount of literature on language policy, language assessment policy and the important role that policy plays in shaping the educational system (see, e.g., Good et al. 2017). While there are many factors that contribute to the success (or failure) of an educational system, coherent and evidence-informed educational policies are chief among them (Coffield 2012). The recognised link between the performance of a school system and its guiding policies makes it imperative that educational policies be grounded on a solid knowledge base (Aydarova & Berliner 2018). ...
Article
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Background: The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and similar international assessments, have consistently shown South African intermediate phase learners’ performance to be among the lowest worldwide. Of particular concern is the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for Home Language in the Intermediate Phase and, specifically, the document’s treatment of the assessment of reading comprehension. Objectives: In this study, the CAPS requirements for assessing reading comprehension were examined, with the aim of laying the groundwork for an improved policy framework. Method: The research design of the study involved evaluating the assessment of reading comprehension in the CAPS document, using a social realist approach to uncover its underlying structures and mechanisms. Results: The study found that a principled approach to the assessment of reading comprehension was lacking, which had a cumulative effect across the CAPS document, resulting in random, yet highly prescriptive, requirements. Conclusion: The study concluded that CAPS does not provide adequate guidance for improving reading comprehension and, moreover, that the prescribed programme of assessment is not supported by the research literature on reading comprehension. The study recommends that better, more evidence-informed and consultative policies and guidelines be introduced to support teachers in the assessment – and, ultimately, the improvement – of intermediate phase learners’ reading comprehension.
... We first identified a great expectation about imported solutions that are easy to implement because politicians, academics working as consultants, and teachers view them as a kind of best practice that can be implemented transversally nationwide in all kindergartens, schools, and universities. These expectations about simple, short-term solutions contrast with a view of curriculum reforms as systematic, long-term reforms with greater need for resources-a very attractive concept to policymakers in developing countries (Coffield, 2012). ...
Article
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Previous research has shown how peace education (PE) mutates according to socio-political and curricular/didactic traditions, but we still need to know how PE disseminates at the school level. We surveyed teachers from 12 rural schools of the violent Amazon region of Colombia where a national Law made PE mandatory in schools and universities. Teachers working on schools affected by the armed conflict have high expectations about PE. Respondents identified PE with 21 didactic elements: (a) Approaches: values education, citizenship education, critical pedagogy; (b) Pedagogical principles: diversity and pluralism. (c) Learning processes: peaceful conflict resolution, promotion of a “life project”, political participation. (d) Topics: justice, human rights, nature preservation, culture preservation, school bullying, historical memory or peace treaties´ history, “risk prevention”. (e) Pedagogic means: “games”, multimedia, “recreation”, and social projects. (f) Teaching methods: action research and moral dilemmas. Teachers also have opposing views about the history of PE. We could not find a systematic pattern of responses about the pedagogical principles or theoretical sources of inspiration of PE. We discuss the differences between present PE reforms and the previous tradition related to classical education that promoted moral, historical, and political capacities linked to school subjects in the context of post-conflict societies.
... Therefore, understanding individual interpretation and decision making within this complex system is critical when policies are being implemented. Coffield (2012) argues, however, that policies are often developed by technocrats who are devoid of the day-to-day experiences of schools. This then results in a lack of understanding between policymakers and implementers. ...
... no han faltado, con todo, críticas severas que la califican de simplificadora y, además, sesgada e instrumental: obedece a una agenda que al poner el foco preferentemente sobre responsabilidades particulares (abajo), trata de ocultar y eludir (arriba) otras más profundas y poderosas, estructurales y sistémicas. también hay otros discursos que confieren a las fuerzas hegemónicas macro tales y tan determinantes influencias que terminan por minimizar e incluso despreciar, por irrelevantes, los márgenes de contestación y posibilidad de la educación, los docentes y la formación (Coffield, 2012). ...
Article
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Hay un amplio consenso en que el profesorado y la formación docente son factores clave de la calidad y mejora de la educación, pero ello no acaba de traducirse en las políticas y decisiones efectivamente consecuentes por parte de los países, el nuestro en particular. El Máster de Educación Secundaria vigente, uno de los cambios reciente llevado a cabo, no ha logrado cumplir las expectativas albergadas. Este artículo hace explícito, primero, un determinado marco teórico que subraya la necesidad de tomar en consideración la educación secundaria como ámbito laboral, el núcleo curricular de la formación inicial del profesorado y el gobierno de la misma. Los referentes y criterios conceptualmente justificados nos han servido para llevar a cabo una revisión y un balance del surgimiento, el diseño, la implementación y los resultados del Máster. La metodología empleada integra informaciones de la propia experiencia y unos cuantos estudios que se han realizado en fechas recientes sobre aquél, describiendo y valorando una panorámica que, sin ser representativa, merece considerarse como una aproximación digna de atención. En las conclusiones finales, además de reclamar la necesidad de investigaciones sucesivas bien fundamentadas y de alcance, se abren algunas líneas de discusión y mejora en planos macro, meso y micro. Mientras las de carácter estructural van a depender de posibles pactos sociopolíticos, las propiamente pedagógicas y organizativas podrían y deberían acometerse con actuaciones ya realizables en los centros de formación y por parte de los agentes formadores directamente involucrados.
... In recent years, however, the academic and research community have once again begun to highlight the need for research in the field of educational leadership to embrace different settings (Clarke & O'Donoghue, 2013;Karareba, Clarke, & O'Donoghue, 2016). In this regard, Coffield (2012), who, while accepting the position made by two McKinsey reports that teachers have a major impact on the educational outcomes of any education system, holds that to argue that it is the single greatest impact overstates and oversimplifies a very complex situation. ...
Article
This article is premised on the belief that research on educational leadership should embrace different settings. Accordingly, a Rwandan study is reported informed by three interrelated aims regarding primary school leadership: to understand its historical background from colonial times to 1994 (the genocide year), to understand developments occurring from 1994 to 2014, and to understand perspectives of primary school leaders on their concerns. Data gathering methods comprised interviews, document analysis, and observation. Key outcomes of the study are articulated according to propositions relating to each research aim illuminating the past, present, and future of primary school leadership in Rwanda.
... El debate sobre la llamada excelencia docente es uno que ha cobrado gran protagonismo en la agenda educativa nacional e internacional de las últimas dos décadas (Coffield, 2012;Parra, 2015). Si bien el resultado de este ejercicio no permite invalidar la hipótesis sobre el papel fundamental de la formación y las capacidades de los educadores en el aprendizaje de los estudiantes, sí desafía la lógica que la inversión en este elemento sería suficiente para resolver muchos de los retos de los colegios oficiales de la región. ...
Article
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El artículo presenta los resultados de un ejercicio de indagación de noticias alusivas al sector educativo publicadas en dos medios de comunicación de alta circulación en el norte de Colombia. El Heraldo es un periódico de amplia consulta entre líderes de opinión en ciudades como Barranquilla, mientras que la audiencia del Diario La Libertad se concentra más entre clases populares y municipios de la región. El contraste de temáticas y debates difundidos en ambas fuentes da cuenta de las complejidades detrás del proceso educativo que surge tras hitos como la publicación de la Ley 715 de 2001. Los hallazgos del estudio sacan a relucir implicaciones metodológicas relevantes que invitan a la innovación en los debates académicos y políticos sobre los grandes retos educativos del país.
... A number of critiques have drawn attention to these issues and analysed influential reports (e.g. Alexander, 2010;Coffield, 2012). More generally, Auld and Morris (2016) illustrate the repertoire of moves that analysts use to develop a narrative of control, arguing that the 'strategies combine to create a system that is closed conceptually, collapsing complexity and reinterpreting the nature of social reality to enable the delivery of the research ambition' (224). ...
Article
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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has unveiled plans to move into the field of early childhood education through the introduction of the International Early Learning Study (IELS), a new comparative test of five-year olds that is being piloted in three nations. This article explores the dynamics of this new project and serves three purposes. First, we situate IELS within the OECD’s broader agenda in education governance, and with regard to its existing comparative assessments, namely the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Second, we identify the main commentaries and critiques of the OECD’s activity and assessments, specifically relating to PISA. In the concluding section we anticipate a possible future when such tests are established in the early childhood education sector and reflect on its possible impact. We argue that the advent of comparative testing of five-year olds heralds an attempt to introduce a new paradigm for early childhood education, one which stresses cognitive skills and children’s role as future sources of human capital.
... DfE, 2010aDfE, , 2010bGuarino, Santibañez and Daley, 2006; and the reduction of minimum selection requirements such as lower academic grades. When discussing the McKinsey Report's views on teacher education, Coffield (2012) argues that its conclusion of 'a highly complex set of relations is reduced to only one factor' (p.132). The McKinsey ...
Thesis
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In Brazil, teacher selection for state secondary schools is centralised and standardised, without the participation of schools, resulting in a hiring process that heavily emphasises subject knowledge and academic qualifications. This process is called the concurso examination. Considering the existing gap in the Brazilian academic literature on teacher selection, and the pressing need to attract more people into the teaching profession to recruit, screen and select the best candidates, this study sought to understand the concurso as the instrument which executes this selection, and its potential links with the notion of teacher quality. A comparative casestudy approach as both epistemology and methodology was used to support the research design. The conceptual framework developed proposes an ideology of selection shaped by specific features and assumptions of the concurso and informed by participants’ views and understandings. Thus, the study relied on 61 interviews with teachers, school principals, teachers’ union representatives, and high-level political stakeholders in order to capture and articulate their unique voices about the concurso. A thematic analysis was conducted, and its findings indicate five underlying concepts: the need for the valorisation of teachers, a ‘perceived’ quality associated with the issue of meritocracy, as well as a sense of trust in a process assumed to be democratic due to a pervasive fear of corruption. These findings lead to the idea that in Brazil, the concurso is an inevitability sustained by legislative markers and informed by socioeconomic, political, cultural and historical influences. The concurso must be understood as a complex social process where it is conceptualised as ‘instrument’ – addressing a need for impartiality with the intention of preventing corruption; as ‘policy’ – aiming to valorise teachers through merit and job-stability but which instead creates a two-tier system of concursados and non-concursados; and as ‘ideology’ – helping to maintain the status-quo of the concurso.
... This is of particular importance in the market-driven societies where an economic organization such as the OECD has a major impact on education policy, politics of expertise according to Lindblad and Lundahl (2015, p. 15). Such arguments are important to analyse (see, for instance, Adamson, 2012;Coffield, 2012;Grek, 2009). ...
... This is of particular importance in the market-driven societies where an economic organization such as the OECD has a major impact on education policy, politics of expertise according to Lindblad and Lundahl (2015, p. 15). Such arguments are important to analyse (see, for instance, Adamson, 2012;Coffield, 2012;Grek, 2009). ...
Article
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This article presents an analysis and discussion of the conceptions of teacher collegiality in times of restructuring, where a shift in the governance of teachers’ work from bureaucratic to market principles can be identified. In addition, several actors from different cultural and social worlds want to contribute to education policy and school success, often through collegiality. Through a conceptual research review, a selection of articles on how teacher collegiality is assigned meaning in the context of different institutional logics is analysed. Different kinds of collegiality are presented, all of which have something to contribute to the understanding of teachers’ work; however, they imply different things. Such differences need to be clarified in order to improve the exchange of ideas, cooperation, and mutual understanding between actors in different cultural and social worlds. Researchers, actors, and experts in market-driven societies will thereby have a better chance to exchange ideas and actually understand each other.
... It should be complemented with an analysis of other ways to influence policy--making through what could be called 'backstage politics', and its informal practices and contacts (Souto--Otero, 2017;Wodak, 2015). For example, firms like McKinsey, known to be influential in the area of education (Coffield, 2012), do not perform policy evaluations but use other means to influence the education agenda and bring about paradigmatic change. But analysing policy evaluations as part of the 'front stage' offers a useful way to start, and helps us to understand the relationship between evaluation services and policy--making (Vedung, 2017). ...
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This article explores the relationship between education, training and the single market, focusing on the market for the production of policy evaluations in the areas of education and training, culture and youth of the European Commission. Two questions are addressed: the first question relates to the geographical distribution of the organisations that deliver policy evaluation services to the European Commission (‘Commission’) in those areas; and the second relates to the nature of the ideas for policy development put forward in the evaluations examined. Based on information gathered from 23 evaluations carried out between 2012 and 2016 (in particular, the circa 300 recommendations they included), the analysis reveals that although the Commission relied on competitive processes for the award of those evaluations, competition was somewhat restricted: there is a marked dominance of a limited number of countries as the powerhouses for the Commission’s education policy evaluation. In relation to the second question, and by contrast to other policy spaces, the analysis provided little evidence of unfettered penetration of private sector ‘ideological repertoires’, lexicons and sensitivities into the European policy evaluation space.
... Any such analysis must recognise the dangers in comparing different systems, especially given the complex cultural and contextual differences that exist between countries. 27 It is also important to recognise that school and education-specific reforms can only make so much difference, and so must sit within a wider integrated, long-term approach to addressing disadvantage spanning multiple areas of public policy. 28 Nevertheless, there is value in asking how and why different systems perform differently in these important areas and what the implications might be for England. ...
Research
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We study the performance of disadvantaged pupils in England and the gap between those pupils and their peers. We compare England’s performance on both measures to other, developed countries.
... 8). Despite the report's methodological vagueness and conceptual weakness (Coffield, 2012), it is well known in the policy community. Educational reformers around the world often repeat its catchy claim -"the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers" -as they usher in educational change (Aydarova, in progress;Paine, Blöemeke, & Aydarova, 2015). ...
Article
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In a policy climate where various actors claim to have solutions for the enduring challenges of teacher education, policy deliberations sideline certain voices and omit important perspectives. This special issue brings together scholars who attend to the voices, perspectives, and issues overlooked by teacher education policy debates dominated by market logic and accountability pressures. It highlights debates surrounding teacher performance assessments, teacher candidate selection, value-added assessments, as well as teacher preparation for linguistically diverse learners. The introduction to the special issue explores different dimensions of the relationship between research and practice urging teacher educators to become more proactive in policy debates.
... Furthermore, we know that the trend of "policy borrowing" from those higher in the rankings is unlikely to lead to direct improvements in achievement data not only because of these interrelated factors but also because of enormous differences across educational systems, political systems, societies, and cultures (Kamens, 2013;Porter & Gamoran, 2002). Criticisms of studies such as the so-called "McKinsey report," which promote "policy borrowing" for policymakers looking for quick solutions from what has been called a culturally cleansed and spurious evidence base, have been even more damning (Alexander, 2012;Coffield, 2012;Raffe, 2011aRaffe, , 2011b. ...
Chapter
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This chapter, drawing on my personal experience as the project manager for a large-scale survey - the European Survey on Language Competences - reflects on the aspects that influence my own research most strongly, namely the limitations of the methodology used in such surveys to produce data that can feed into policy formation and positively impact what goes on inside classrooms around the world. Future trends and directions for research in comparative education are then explored, where I suggest practical case studies focusing on comparative pedagogy within a policy learning approach as a possible way forward in providing a rich and robust supplementary source of evidence for policymakers. © 2018 by Emerald Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
... En este sentido, un argumento que se aduce y reitera es que ambos factores son claves en la calidad de los sistemas escolares y la educación. Sin ponerlo radicalmente en cuestión, no han dejado de hacerse oír voces (Biesta, 2015;Coffield, 2012;Labaree, 2008) que critican tanto los criterios de calidad que se toman en consideración como las estrategias que sugieren y reclaman de los países más rezagados. A fin de cuentas, se impone así un patrón hegemónico de calidad dejando de lado la historia, los contextos sociales, políticos y económicos de los sistemas educativos nacionales y locales y, asimismo, simplificando interesadamente la complejidad de los factores, intereses y poderes involucrados en los cambios educativos. ...
Article
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This article analyzes teaching collaboration, one of the most promising professional development activities, as it appears in a broader investigation about different dimensions of continuing education of teachers in Spain. First, we describe the relevance of teaching collaboration as a new paradigm in professional development, and we present the conceptual definition of teaching collaboration and clarify key factors that explain current fractures between theory and practice. Our research questions, mixed investigation design (quantitative and qualitative) applied to a sample of teachers and Teacher Centers in different regions of the country, and data analysis and discussion focus on how and why good approaches (i.e. teachers collegiality in schools) fail to get developed or meet expectations, and theoretical and practical implications of these developments.
... both right-wing independent think tanks in Australia; and the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) (https://www.acer.edu.au/), an independent non-government organisation. Coffield (2012) is highly critical of such reports suggesting they are often methodologically flawed, selective, superficial and implausible regarding their central arguments, have a thin evidential base for their claims, and an impoverished view of teachers and teaching (also see Lingard, 2016). Media practices of sensationalisation operate through the use of such packaged research. ...
Article
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This paper explores the ‘media mentalities’ about teachers and their work in the Australian print media. The notion of media mentalities draws on the theoretical concepts of discourse, mentalities, and mediatisation. This refers to the constructed realities and forms of thought in media coverage that circulate particular accounts. These are linked to institutional and journalistic practices in media that are governed by media logics. Drawing on newspaper text and interviews with journalists, the following practices are addressed: agendisation and accountabilisation which are both institutional practices; and the journalistic practices of factualisation, emphasisation, and sensationalisation – all of which operate globally, to some degree, across and within media institutions and media practitioners, and produce the news about teacher's work within the framework of these practices.
Chapter
This chapter reports on the transformational work of two secondary school teachers—one who teaches music (Jenna) and the other performing arts (Adam)—teaching in a public secondary school in one of the most educationally disadvantaged urban regions in Australia that had embarked on a whole-of-school transformation during 2015–2019. Both teachers have been working on redesigning curriculum and pedagogy with a view to improving student achievement through trialling strategies that offer some hope for re-engaging their students. Adam reports on his successful attempts to take up elements of Project Based Learning and especially giving his students more opportunities to construct their own learning as part of a class performance. Jenna, on the other hand, redesigned the music programme with reference to critical pedagogy studies to ensure the development of foundational musical knowledge whilst also maintaining personalised approaches to learning in the middle years. We conclude this chapter with some reflections on the unique potential of the arts curriculum to re-engage students, who traditionally reject the later years of secondary schools. The arts curriculum has the potential to connect the identity work that young people are doing with the official curriculum of school. The arts curriculum, as reported here, are also exemplars of ethical and ‘local curations of learning’ (Atkinson, 2011, Art, equality and learning. Sense Publishing, p. 151).
Article
We discuss the findings of an evaluation of the implementation process of the Colombian Full-Day Schooling programme. The assessment draws on a systems thinking-based approach to delve into the complexities of this social intervention, seen as a system operating within a decentralised governance system. Our research design allowed us to link deficiencies in how the programme arrives at subregions with contradictions between its design -which highly depends on school autonomy- and structural tendencies in Colombia towards recentralising decision-making in national authorities. Questions about how policy debates at different levels -including the international one- shape national education systems are left open.
Article
Despite a growing emphasis in education policy on ‘what works for whom and in what circumstances’, there is still considerable attention to decontextualised ‘best practices’ that emerge from cross-country comparisons of student achievement. Also, while operational and even political aspects of context are increasingly incorporated into policy research, there is relatively little attention to the relationship between sociocultural context and education policy. In this paper, I explore the extent to which national sociocultural context influences the relationship between one aspect of policy – teacher accountability – and student outcomes. I do so by using multilevel modelling to analyse international survey data on education (from PISA 2012, PISA 2015, and TIMSS 2015) matched at the country level with survey data on culture (from the World Values Survey and Hofstede’s IBM study). I find that one of the sociocultural constructs significantly and consistently moderates the relationship between teacher accountability and student outcomes, suggesting that some teacher accountability approaches may be beneficial in certain sociocultural contexts but detrimental in others. This finding implies a need for caution in generating universal policy prescriptions from international assessments such as PISA and TIMSS. It also strengthens the case for viewing teacher accountability as a socioculturally embedded process.
Book
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Most developed nations measure the performance of teachers in audit evaluations of school productivity. Accountability metrics such as "teacher effectiveness" and "teacher quality" dominate evaluations of student outcomes and shape education policy. The Metrics of Teacher Effectiveness and Teacher Quality Research explores how these metrics distort analyses of student achievement, sideline broader contextual and systemic influences on learning, reinforce input-output analysis of schooling, and skew the educational debate. Focusing on recent phases of school education policy reform, this book utilizes qualitative data from classroom teacher participants to examine how and why issues of teacher effectiveness and teacher quality figure so prominently in policy reform and why pressing matters of social class, school funding, and broader contextual influences are downplayed. The authors use this information to suggest how teachers can develop their role as pedagogic experts in a highly scrutinized environment. This book will be of great interest to education academics and postgraduate students specializing in teacher performance, accountability and governance.
Book
Cambridge Core - American Studies - Policy Consultancy in Comparative Perspective - by Caspar van den Berg
Chapter
Duggan interrogates the claim that young people are underprepared for the so-named ‘digital revolution’. He examines how digital disruption has been mobilised in ways that render their lives visible to technical, instrumental, and economic intervention by both domestic, and increasingly, global actors. Duggan offers a novel reading of how technology is positioned within discussions about what are considered ‘desirable’ educational futures, and by whom. It draws together an archive of key reports and initiatives by the World Economic Forum (WEF), global management consulting firms McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) emerging in the wake of the global financial crisis. A key contribution of this chapter is in investigating the knowledge-producing and knowledge-positioning practices these firms engage in with particular concern to how they frame the ‘future’.
Chapter
The Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA) is a partnership between the Queensland Department of Education and Training (DET) and Good to Great Schools Australia (GGSA). The CYAAA has operated in the remote Queensland communities of Coen, Aurukun and Hope Vale. While Aurukun is no longer a campus, the CYAAA continues to operate at Coen and Hope Vale, where it uses Direct Instruction (DI), a standardised pedagogical and curriculum program. This chapter addresses the questions: What is the nature of the CYAAA reform? How has its implementation played out? What is the evidence of its success/failure? What conclusions should be drawn from the CYAAA experience? All of these questions have had significant relevance to literacy education in the three communities discussed here. Because the CYAAA is a high-profile, contested reform that embodies a particular approach to remote Indigenous education, these questions are important, not only to the communities involved but in considerations concerning literacy education for Indigenous communities in general.
Article
The provision for special educational needs and disability (SEND) within academies and across multi-academy trusts is an under researched area. Drawing on data derived from one multi academy trust (MAT) located in central England, that consists of two primary and two secondary academies, this paper focusses on capturing the practitioners’ ‘vision’ for SEND provision, and the barriers they face in its realisation. The desire for a ‘holistic approach’ to SEND, characterised the main ambitions for staff, with local issues associated with ‘identification’ and ‘support and intervention’, as well as wider concerns with dwindling autonomy over practice, seen as key barriers. We consider a range of avenues that educational establishments may take in their quest to embrace holistic practice, including the privileging of a multi-dimensional approach to inclusive education, and the need for clear and decisive leadership.
Article
Individual, family and community risk factors might determine the success or failure of educational interventions. The study is a secondary analysis, aimed at identifying distinctive constellations of risk for educational attainment, and at exploring whether membership to these constellations moderated the impact of a cluster-randomized reading intervention in rural India. By means of latent profile analysis, four constellations of risk were identified based on individual and family risk-factors. Multilevel cumulative logit models confirmed that the intervention had a positive impact on the outcome, and revealed that profile membership did not moderate the effect of the intervention. However more nuanced analysis showed that the intervention worked differently for children with different risk-profiles depending on contextual factors.
Conference Paper
This research has investigated how Continuing Professional Development and Learning (CPDL) could help teachers to become better teachers by acquiring new skills and improving their competencies. The aim was to find out to what extent the present system of CPDL in Mauritius is able to fulfill that important role of providing CPDL which influences positively on the quality of teaching. The skills teachers wanted to develop in order to become better classroom practitioners were also explored. The research comprised a survey made of all the principals of the State Secondary Schools (SSSs) in Mauritius followed by semi-structured interviews with nine teachers, three Heads of Departments (HoDs) and principals of three schools studied and two directors of the Ministry of Education (MOE). Data were also obtained from a World Bank consultant during his visit to Mauritius advising the government on education reforms and three inspectors. Evidence suggests that in the Mauritian secondary schools studied there are shortcomings in the provision of CPDL but there are also possibilities for improvement. The findings of the research make it possible to make recommendations which might be useful for policy makers to bring changes to improve the provision of CPDL at the level of the teachers, the school and the MOE. The main findings of the research were that the main model of CPDL, that is workshops, does not provide educators with the necessary skills to improve their quality of teaching; HoDs and senior educators who were supposed to lead CPDL were not fulfilling that role to its fullest; principals were not in general supporting HoDs to provide CPDL; and the inspectors seemed unable to do much in terms of improving the quality of teaching. Nevertheless, there is a place for CPDL with teachers in the SSSs provided it is dispensed by experts in their fields; teachers learn from them; there is follow up and what is learnt is applied in the classroom. Key words: CPDL, teaching skills, competencies, coaching, collaboration and one-day workshops.
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The objective of this conceptual paper was to explore how teachers’ practice was problematised in the field of geography education. Research in geography didactics and curriculum making are two fields that have been relevant to build the understanding on teachers practice in geography. The challenge for geography education therefore appears to be how to understand the relationships between the two in coherent and systematic ways. This paper engages with the specific meaning of being a subject specialist and the gap in the literature between curriculum making and didactics to understand that specialisation. A second gap is identified regarding the relationship between teacher practice and the professional practices encircling in-classroom activities. The paper finalises suggesting the use of the term expertise to address the dynamics of specialisation in a subject but also with its implication to teachers’ professional practice.
Article
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This conceptual paper provides a critical analysis of the current convergence of major policy initiatives in Scotland to improve learning and teaching, promote greater equity and close the attainment gap through systems level leadership and change. It is neither an empirical study nor a literature review but synthesises across a range of fields – social justice, poverty, social mobility, school improvement, leadership and policy – in order to cast light on the problem and to inform public policy and practice. However system level leadership is not unproblematic, with, as argued by Boylan, the terms system and leadership seen as malleable concepts, nor can it be seen as a panacea for all ills. The paper argues that educational policy needs to be seen as residing within wider social policy. Without recourse to addressing systemic inequalities in society and building the infrastructure and support structures around schools, schools, on their own, are unlikely to rise to the challenge. The paper argues for a melding of distributive leadership (with emancipatory intent and purpose) with systems leadership, characterised by meaningful collaboration and partnerships from ‘within – to between – and beyond’ schools (as suggested by Chapman), imbued with moral purpose.
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This article is a sequel to the conversation on learning initiated by the editors of Educational Researcher in volume 25, number 4. The author’s first aim is to elicit the metaphors for learning that guide our work as learners, teachers, and researchers. Two such metaphors are identified: the acquisition metaphor and the participation metaphor. Subsequently, their entailments are discussed and evaluated. Although some of the implications are deemed desirable and others are regarded as harmful, the article neither speaks against a particular metaphor nor tries to make a case for the other. Rather, these interpretations and applications of the metaphors undergo critical evaluation. In the end, the question of theoretical unification of the research on learning is addressed, wherein the purpose is to show how too great a devotion to one particular metaphor can lead to theoretical distortions and to undesirable practices.
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Adult learning matters. There is now widespread agreement that modern countries depend on the creativity, skills and knowledge of the entire population for their prosperity. Many people talk of our future well-being in terms of a ‘knowledge economy’ or a ‘learning society’ in which every person’s ability to develop new capabilities will provide them with resources that will help them and the wider community to adapt and thrive. While in theory this makes lifelong learning into an exciting prospect, in practice this broad agenda is often reduced to a narrowly economic conception.
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Through its unique theoretical framework - a cultural understanding of teaching and learning - this book develops a new way of understanding educational improvement, one which focuses on the formation and transformation of the practices through which students learn. Based on detailed ethnographic research of seventeen learning sites in further education colleges, this book generates a unique insight into a wide variety of practices of teaching and learning. Illustrated by case studies, it is structured around three key questions: What do learning cultures in FE look like and how do they transform over time? how do learning cultures transform people? how can people (tutors, managers, policy makers, but also students) transform learning cultures for the better? Through a combination of theory and analysis, Improving Learning Cultures in Further Education makes a strong case for the importance of a cultural approach to the improvement of teaching and learning in further education, and provides practical guidance for researchers, policymakers and practitioners for implementing change for the better. © 2007 David James and Gert Biesta selection and editorial matter; individual chapters
Article
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This article provides an overview of the literature concerning successful school leadership. It draws on the international literature and is derived from a more extensive review of the literature completed in the early stage of the authors’ project. The prime purpose of this review is to summarise the main findings from the wealth of empirical studies undertaken in the leadership field.
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Classroom discussion practices that can lead to reasoned participation by all students are presented and described by the authors. Their research emphasizes the careful orchestration of talk and tasks in academic learning. Parallels are drawn to the philosophical work on deliberative discourse and the fundamental goal of equipping all students to participate in academically productive talk. These practices, termed Accountable TalkSM, emphasize the forms and norms of discourse that support and promote equity and access to rigorous academic learning. They have been shown to result in academic achievement for diverse populations of students. The authors outline Accountable Talk as encompassing three broad dimensions: one, accountability to the learning community, in which participants listen to and build their contributions in response to those of others; two, accountability to accepted standards of reasoning, talk that emphasizes logical connections and the drawing of reasonable conclusions; and, three, accountability to knowledge, talk that is based explicitly on facts, written texts, or other public information. With more than fifteen years research into Accountable Talk applications across a wide range of classrooms and grade levels, the authors detail the challenges and limitations of contexts in which discourse norms are not shared by all members of the classroom community.
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Cascade models of in-service training are widely considered to be a cost effective means of introducing educational change to large numbers of teachers. Data from 511 teachers completing a cascade training programme that introduced current ideas about and procedures for teaching English to young learners, suggests that provision of training alone is no guarantee that cascade training aims will actually be applied in classrooms. The paper considers implications for cascade projects, suggesting that planning needs to be a parallel process if an adequate return on outlay, in the sense of teachers applying skills introduced in training in their classrooms, is to be achieved.
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In their concern with ‘improved’ curricula and ‘more effective’ teaching-learning methods, education ministries often use the ‘cascade’ model to attempt to effect large-scale change at the classroom level. Experience of cascades in in-service development has tended to show, however, that the cascade is more often reduced to a trickle by the time it reaches the class-room teacher, on whom the success of curricular change depends. This paper examines the experience of a nationwide in-service teacher development project in Sri Lanka which aims to remedy the potential deficiencies of cascade models of teacher development It shows how project training and development strategies which are context sensitive, collaborative, and reflexive seek to involve teachers in managing their own professional growth, while at the same time taking account of frameworks agreed at the national level. In this way a cascade model of training may promote genuine development rather than surface adherence to official mandates.
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How can opportunities for teaching and learning be improved to ensure that many more people participate, gain qualifications and obtain decent jobs? Will government policies enable us to achieve these goals? What new ideas do we need to ensure a more inclusive, equitable and efficient learning system? These are some of the main concerns which underlie this thought-provoking book coming from a major research project looking at how policies affect learners, tutors, managers and institutional leaders in Further Education Colleges, Adult and Community Learning centres and in Work Based Learning sites. Post compulsory education in the UK has been constantly restructured by the New Labour government and has been subject to considerable policy turbulence over the last few years. This book attempts to understand this important but poorly understood sector by both talking to students and front-line staff and by interviewing the officials responsible for managing post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. By examining the sector simultaneously from the 'bottom up' and from 'top down', the authors show how recent policy is affecting three disadvantaged groups - 16-19 year olds who have fared poorly in official tests at school; unemployed adults learning basic skills; and employees at work learning basic skills. The authors conclude that there are serious failings and suggest principles and features of a more equitable and effective learning system. © 2008 Frank Coffield, Sheila Edward, Ian Finlay, Ann Hodgson, Ken Spours and Richard Steer. All rights reserved.
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Перевод: Mona Mourshed, Chinezi Chijioke, Michael Barber. How the worlds most improved school systems keep getting better. McKinsey&Company. November 2010 (пер. с англ. Н. Микшиной, Е. Шадриной). Продолжение. Начало публикации см. в № 1 за 2011 г.Содержание1. Группа мер воздействия1.1. В Зазеркалье1.2. Система, а не набор явлений1.3. Предписывайте соответствие норме, но дайте возможность добиваться большего1.4. Общие, но различные 2. Адаптация мер воздействия к определенному контексту2.1. Как прорваться, а не провалиться2.2. Руководящий принцип: принуждение или убеждение? 3. Поддержание уровня3.1. Практика сотрудничества: пользовательский интерфейс3.2. Посредническое звено: операционная система3.3. Воспитание нового поколения лидеров: центральный процессор 4. Пусковой импульс4.1. На старте4.2. Хороший кризис всегда пригодится4.3. Не спрятаться, не скрыться4.4. Как правильно выйти на сцену4.5. Сценарий нового лидера4.6. Устойчивость лидера 5. ЗаключениеПриложение
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How We Learn deals with the fundamental issues of the processes of learning, critically assessing different types of learning and obstacles to learning. It also considers a broad range of other important questions in relation to learning such as: • modern research into learning and brain functions • self-perception, motivation and competence development • teaching, intelligence and learning style • learning in relation to gender and life age. The book provides a comprehensive introduction to both traditional learning theory and the newest international research into learning processes, while at the same time being an innovative contribution to a new and more holistic understanding of learning including discussion on school-based learning, net-based learning, workplace learning and educational politics. How We Learn examines all the key factors that help to create a holistic understanding of what learning actually is and why and how learning and non-learning take place. It is also however a refreshing and thought-provoking piece of scholarly work as it adds new research material, new understandings and new points of view. © 1999, 2006 Roskilde University Press; 2007 Knud Illeris. All rights reserved.
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As one who has deserted pure physics for technology I cannot comment on Brian Woolnough's views on physics teaching in schools (Physics Bulletin May 1978 p203); but I am concerned about some of the more general points which he introduces. I have no certain knowledge about the general level of school leavers, but I do know that the standards of university entrants have declined in English and in mathematics.
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Pupil consultation can lead to a transformation of teacher-pupil relationships, to significant improvements in teachers' practices, and to pupils having a new sense of themselves as members of a community of learners. In England, pupil involvement is at the heart of current government education policy and is a key dimension of both citizenship education and personalised learning. Drawing on research carried out as part of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme, Improving Learning through Consulting Pupils discusses the potential of consultation as a strategy for signalling a more partnership-oriented relationship in teaching and learning. It also examines the challenges of introducing and sustaining consultative practices. Topics covered include: • the centrality of consultation about teaching and learning in relation to broader school level concerns; • teaching approaches that pupils believe help them to learn and those that obstruct their learning; • teachers' responses to pupil consultation - what they learn from it, the changes they can make to their practice and the difficulties they can face; • the things that can get in the way of pupils trusting in consultation as something that can make a positive difference. While consultation is flourishing in many primary schools, the focus here is on secondary schools where the difficulties of introducing and sustaining consultation are often more daunting but where the benefits of doing so can be substantial. This innovative book will be of interest to all those concerned with improving classroom learning.
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This article is an edited version of the author’s BAICE Presidential Address, which was delivered in September 2009 at the 10th UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development. The editing removes the original’s visual elements but retains its tone, more or less. The paper anatomises ‘world class’, a concept, slogan, aspiration or claim which is now in routine use in the educational discourse of anglophone countries. Fuelled by international student achievement surveys such as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), ‘world class’ speaks to a supremacist and nationalistic mindset which contrasts with other measures of national progress, especially in relation to equality and well‐being, and with those other kinds of global consciousness which are essential to interdependence, sustainability and the United Nations goal of Education for All (EFA). ‘World class’ is also methodologically reductionist, elevating simple statistical correlation over the exploration of culture and, as the McKinsey report shows’, it may confine the analysis of educational cause, consequence and solution to the realm of the banal, misleading or even meaningless. The notion of ‘world class’ education thus perpetuates old and unhelpful divisions in comparative and international enquiry and raises urgent questions for comparativists and organisations like BAICE (British Association for International and Comparative Education).
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Prologue Part I. Practice: Introduction I 1. Meaning 2. Community 3. Learning 4. Boundary 5. Locality Coda I. Knowing in practice Part II. Identity: Introduction II 6. Identity in practice 7. Participation and non-participation 8. Modes of belonging 9. Identification and negotiability Coda II. Learning communities Conclusion: Introduction III 10. Learning architectures 11. Organizations 12. Education Epilogue.
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These are heady times in the world of international survey assessments. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which sponsors the Program in International Student Assessment (PISA) and the International Adult Literacy Strategy (IALS), and the International Education Agency (IEA), which sponsors the Trends In Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS), have achieved substantial, if indirect, influence on education policy in many nations. Over the last two decades, these four assessments have expanded in both scope and coverage. Each successive administration has involved a larger number of jurisdictions and garnered greater coverage in the media when scores are announced. More significantly, in many of these jurisdictions policy makers attend to the outcomes (particularly the so-called league tables) and new governmental policies are enacted as a result. Of course, the interest in education stems largely from an appreciation of the role of human capital development in economic growth (Hanushek et al. 2008). At the same time, education researchers have taken advantage of the treasure trove of data to conduct sophisticated analyses: some focus on the relationships among student performance, student background characteristics and school contexts; others look for connections between student outcomes and classroom practices. More often than not, an important goal is to identify those conditions that account for the success of the ‘‘highflyers,’’ those jurisdictions that top the charts. To this ever-growing corpus, McKinsey and Company has contributed the present report, a study of 25 jurisdictions selected on the basis of their performance on PISA 2003, TIMSS or the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a bi-annual assessment carried out in the United States. Most were either top scoring or displayed clear improvement trajectories over a number of administrations. A few countries in the Middle East and Latin America were included for comparison purposes, although they are not much mentioned in the text. The authors conducted an extensive literature review and a large number of interviews. In the end, they reached a rather unsurprising conclusion;
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After years of being criticised in Britain as irrelevant to the task of raising educational standards, educational researchers have been invited to join in the improvement of policy and practice. Welcome though the invitation is, some views of how they should deserve influence reflect unrealistic or narrow definitions of really useful research. This paper argues against exaggerating the prospects for a science of teaching; against tying the national research agenda tightly to what are currently identified as 'central issues'; and for a broader approach to relevance than direct applicability to improving educational practice.
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This paper explores the relationship between changing forms of the governance of education and the growth and uses of data in the context of England – a context that can be described as the most ‘advanced’ in Europe in terms of data production and use. The paper links the shifting relations between the central department of education (variously known between the 1980s and the time of writing as the Department of Education and Science [DES], Department for Education and Skills [DfES] and the Department for Children, Schools and Families [DCSF]), the local education authorities and the schools to the growth and development of data‐based systems of inspection and performance management, and suggests that the massive growth of data has unbalanced the relations of governing and created highly centralised system steering. Recent attempts to ‘rebalance’ steering through ‘intelligent accountability’ invoke network principles and self‐regulation through self‐evaluation, and thus give the appearance of deregulation, but the centre maintains control through its management and use of data, and local government remains peripheral.
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Modes of organisation and control within educational organisations have tended to accord with those of the workplace. Bureaucracy has endured in both. Of late, it has been loosened. This has opened up a new conceptual space within educational management and leadership. Its underlying theme is collaboration. The analysis here extends the space associated with concepts such as distributed leadership and system leadership. It draws upon the recent social theory of the firm proposed by Paul Adler and Charles Heckscher, and introduces their concept of collaborative community, a concept which when applied to educational administration re‐instates both trust and community as contributing to education, economy and society.
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This article describes and explains the origin and approach of a major research project investigating learning in further education (FE). The Transforming Learning Cultures in FE project (TLC) is part of the Economic and Social Research Council's Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP). The project is a partnership between four universities and four FE colleges. It takes a broadly social and relational view of learning, and explores the complex interrelationships between a wide range of factors, in 16 very varied ‘learning sites’. The article also introduces the other contributions to this Special Issue, and contextualises them in relation to the TLC project as a whole.
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The identification and dissemination of ‘good practice’ has for years been a central part of the Government's strategy for radical change of the education system. ‘Good practice’, however, is no longer good enough, nor is ‘best practice’. The requirement now for post‐compulsory education and training (from which all our examples are taken) is nothing less than ‘excellent practice for all’. This article critically examines these highly significant shifts in the rhetoric of policy, finds them wanting and argues that we need to face up to the complexities involved in deciding not only what is ‘excellent practice’ but also in working through all the stages which would be needed to transmit it throughout the sector. In particular, recent documents from the Quality Improvement Agency and the Learning and Skills Council on the pursuit of excellence are critically appraised. The views of those practitioners who are part of the authors' project in the Economic and Social Research Council's Teaching and Learning Research Programme are also explained in relation to ‘good practice’. The authors attempt to explain the frenetic activity of politicians and policy makers in this sector, and end by moving from critique to construction by considering what can be rescued from the inherently contestable notion of ‘good practice’, and, in doing so, draw heavily on the work of Robin Alexander.
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This paper considers the model of school effectiveness (SE) currently dominant in research, policy and practice in England (although the concerns it raises are international). It shows, principally through consideration of initial and propagated error, that SE results cannot be relied upon. By considering the residual difference between the predicted and obtained score for all pupils in any phase of education, SE calculations leave the results to be disproportionately made up of relative error terms. Adding contextual information confuses, but does not help this situation. Having shown and illustrated the sensitivity of SE to this propagation of initial errors, and therefore why it is unworkable, the paper considers some of the reasons why SE has become dominant, outlines the damage this dominant model causes and begins to shape alternative ways of considering what schools do. Numbers are like people; torture them enough and they will tell you anything.
Article
Abstract In this essay, Gert Biesta provides a critical analysis of the idea of evidence-based practice and the ways in which it has been promoted and implemented in the field of education, focusing on the tension between scientific and democratic control over educational practice and research. Biesta examines three key assumptions of evidence-based education: first, the extent to which educational practice can be compared to the practice of medicine, the field in which evidence-based practice was first developed; second, the role of knowledge in professional actions, with special attention to what kind of epistemology is appropriate for professional practices that wish to be informed by the outcomes of research; and third, the expectations about the practical role of research implicit in the idea of evidence-based education. Biesta concludes that evidence-based practice provides a framework for understanding the role of research in educational practice that not only restricts the scope of decision making to questions about effectivity and effectiveness, but that also restricts the opportunities for participation in educational decision making. He argues that we must expand our views about the interrelations among research, policy, and practice to keep in view education as a thoroughly moral and political practice that requires continuous democratic contestation and deliberation.
Article
Including abstract, graph., bibl. The recent emergence of distributed leadership has been very marked. In England, it has received official endorsement. But the evidence-base which supports this endorsement is weak: there is little evidence of a direct causal relationship between distributed leadership and pupil attainment.What therefore might explain its rise to prominence? Here three possible explanations are considered: first, it accords with the contemporary reform of the public services; second, it is legitimated by an appeal to a culture wherein all categories and classifications are rendered increasingly permeable; and third, it is regarded as functional for the 'new work order'.
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