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Title: Complexity in policy-making: the governance of local education
Author: Atkinson, Maggi
Awarding Body: Keele University
Current Institution: Keele University
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
This thesis examines !ocal governance in education in England, which I explore in outline .. over the closing twen!y years of the twentieth, and in greater depth the first six of the twenty-first centuries. The thesis rests on Complexity and Reader Response Theories, presenting a subjective account of a field in which I am both in a position of influence, and a situated participant researcher. The research study (chapters 4 to 8) explores a time of particular change loCally and nationally in response to the Green Paper 'Every Child Matters' (2003,) Children Act 2004, Education Act 20~5, White Paper 2005 and Education and Inspections Bitl2006. I present an iIIustratwe..case study, analyse serni-structured interviews with professionals, and discuss literature from the field and two underpinning theories. I conclude rentral government's thinking and complex local realities have often been, and remain, in creative tension. My argument is twofold: . (a) Given the shifting nature of spoken and written text, even text created through or interpreting shared professionalism, central government's notion that policy is enacted 'as written' is as flawed as localities' belief that central intentions are antagonistic, fixed or clear; and (b) All systems illustrate complexity: independent, self-generating variables acting on each other constantly, reconfiguring the system. The more multi-layered a system, the more inevitably but unpredictably its variables continuously affect each other. Central government's continued attempts to control, using det~iled legislation subsequently constantly reinterpreted by workers on the ground, .makes localised variables ever more divergent from the centre's ideal. Governments respond through increasingly detailed attempts at control, initiating subsequent cycles of .I /' localities' reinterpretation. Complexity becomes self-perpetuating. '. 'Mutual professional mischieF (explained in chapter 1) influences relationships between Whitehall and Town Hall constituting a skilfully played, often Hnacknowledged 'game.' I maintain playing it is inevitable, creating a~owledged difficulties but perpetuating a fluid, dynamic, mutually beneficial system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Doctorate in Education--Keele University, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.484897  DOI: Not available
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