Stories of compliance and subversion in a prescriptive policy environment

  • MacBeath J
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In their commitment to raising standards successive Conservative and Labour governments have moved progressively to tighter prescription of school policy and more far reaching proscription of practices deemed unacceptable. This article examines how 12 headteachers construct the policy environment and how they respond to it in the schools they lead. The evidence base is 12 in-depth interviews with headteachers, in six primary schools and six secondary at the outset of the TLRP/ESRC research project Learning How to Learn. This subset of headteacher interviews from the total number were selected for this article because these 12 interviews were accompanied by the fullest data set of complementary interviews, questionnaire and observation data which will be the subject of other papers to follow. The interviews provide a baseline picture of how these school leaders were talking about leading learning in their schools and the authority, or "warrant" they referred to in validating their views. Patterns of compliance and subversion are examined with reference to theories of organizational, and "double loop" learning. (Contains 1 note.)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Change
  • Culture
  • Inspection
  • Leadership
  • Learning

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  • John MacBeath

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