UCL Institute of Education report: Hierarchy, Markets and Networks – Analysing the ‘Self-Improving School-Led System’ Agenda

Two-thirds of head teachers believe that inequalities between schools are becoming wider as a result of current government policy.

This is according to a May 2018 report by UCL Institute of Education and funded by Nuffield Foundation and National Foundation for Educational Research on the government’s ‘self-improving school lead system’ (SISS) policy agenda since 2010.

The report argues that the SISS agenda has intensified hierarchical governance and state power, by steering the school system through what is called ‘coercive autonomy’.

Co-author Professor Greany says:

The problem is that the system is hard-wired to encourage selfish behaviour… We see a chaotic system of winners and losers, with increasing incoherence and a loss of equity as a result.

The research identifies four areas for further investigation:

  1. A new economy of knowledge; how to encourage more inclusive and professional forms of knowledge development
  2. Fragmentation; how changes to the existing model could reduce trends towards a system of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’
  3. Equity; how policy on admissions and fair access can be reshaped to redress the trend towards further stratification
  4. Legitimacy; how the school system could secure trust among professionals as well as parents and students

Read the report in full (pdf).

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