What about the children? : primary teachers, child-centred philosophy and the new managerialism : a morphogenetic account
The quasi-marketisation of England and Wales' education system undertaken by the Conservative Government during the 1980s has not only been consolidated but also extended by 'New' Labour. New Managerialist restructuring has now reached its zenith in national target setting, 'Education Action Zones' and the primacy of OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education). Using Archer's (1995) morphogenetic approach, this thesis provides a useful contribution to the development of critical realism in organisation theory and the sociology of education. It also adds to the international debate on school effectiveness, assessment and the generic contradiction between New Managerialism and child-centred philosophy and practice. One of the key arguments of the thesis is that there is an objective constraining contradiction between New Managerialism and child-centred philosophy, which predisposes cultural agents to act in specific ways. Part One establishes the theoretical framework, counterposing Archer's morphogenesis to Giddens' structuration theory. Here it is argued that the interplay of structure, culture and agency can be theorised via the methodological device of analytical dualism. Part Two utilises the morphogenetic approach's three-part sequential schema of Socio-Cultural Conditioning 4 Socio-Cultural Interaction 4 Socio-Cultural Elaboration/Stasis in providing an historical account of the demise of child-centred philosophy and concurrent elaboration of the New Managerialism. The Preface to Part Three critically appraises the school effectiveness movement and the managerialist cooption of Robin Alexander and others. It delineates the background to the two primary schools analysed in Part Three. Part Three provides a contemporary ethnographic analysis of how teaching staffs in two primary schools mediate the contradiction between child-centred philosophy and practice and the New Managerialism. It draws upon nine months of participant observation, tape-recorded semi-structured interviews and the relevant academic literature. The concluding chapter discusses the implications of the findings for primary school practice and underscores the need for a critical realist approach.