The impact of the ideology of ‘the market’ on the English state school system

Grills, Joan M. (2020) The impact of the ideology of ‘the market’ on the English state school system. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/DEPF4211

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Analysis of key education policies since 1988 reveals the rationale for the central importance given to three key components of market ideology: ‘consumer choice’, ‘competition’ and ‘freedom’. This thesis investigates their impact on the structure of the English state school system. Data was collected through twenty semi-structured interviews with educationalists. All those interviewed have worked in the Shire County that is the focus of this research. Thus, ‘policy rhetoric’ is compared with ‘policy reality’, as seen through the eyes of those actively involved. This approach traces the impact of ‘consumer choice’, ‘competition’, and ‘freedom’ over a thirty-year period, in one local authority. This contrasts with other studies that have a single aspect, such as academisation, researched in several locations at one particular point in time. Findings demonstrate that ‘consumer choice’ and ‘competition’, in particular, have not led to the improvements envisaged in policy rhetoric. There is evidence that fear-induced defensive actions taken by some school leaders and the breakdown of trust and partnerships between schools, have impacted detrimentally on vulnerable children. Moreover, the ‘market-model’ has ultimately led to the erosion of its central element, ‘freedom’, as Multi-Academy Trusts introduce standardisation and pooled budgets. Multi-Academy Trusts are emerging as ‘quasi local authorities’; history has almost gone full-circle. This research suggests that applying market ideology to education was flawed from the outset. This ideology is inherently incapable of fulfilling the fundamental purpose of the state school system: achieving the best outcomes for all children. The particular failure of ‘market ideology’ in responding to a crisis, is illustrated through a reflection on the current coronavirus pandemic and its impact on schools. In this crisis, government has had to call on local authorities to provide local leadership for a fragmented system, unable to cope with the level of communication and support needed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Education policy, England; English state school system; Market ideology
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2021 11:49
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:50

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