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Whitty, G; Wisby, E (2016)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Languages: English
Types: Article
Since devolution in the late 1990s, education policy in England has diverged further from that in Scotland and also from policy in Wales and Northern Ireland. In this paper we review the roots and trajectory of the English education reforms over the past two decades. Our focus is the schools sector, though we also touch on adjoining reforms to early years and further and higher education. In so doing, we engage with various themes, including marketization, institutional autonomy, and accountability. Changes in governance arrangements for schools have been a defining feature of education reforms since devolution. This has been set against an evolution in national performance indicators that has put government priorities into ever sharper relief. In theorising the changes, we pay particular attention to the suggestion that the English education system now epitomises the concept of ‘network governance’, which has also been applied to education in a global context. We question the extent to which policies have in practice moved beyond the well-established mechanisms of ‘steering at a distance’ and undermined the very notion of an education system in England. We conclude by considering possible futures for education policy and how they may position England in relation to other parts of the UK and the wider world.
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