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Title: How policy interpretation influences strategic decision-making in further education colleges in England
Author: Edrich, Janet
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 1337
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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Colleges of further education in England are independent institutions and determine their own mission and strategy. As publically funded bodies affected by government policy, colleges respond differently to requirements placed on them. A range of factors that determine how the colleges develop strategy, including their approach to policy interpretation, are identified. The research examined the messages for colleges in the policies of New Labour from 2005 particularly focusing on policy relating to colleges serving their community. A theoretical framework of Ball's (1994) policy cycle, policy sedimentation and subsequent development of theories relating to policy narrative (Keep 2009) and policy levers (Steer et al 2007) were used to illuminate the data. A model of strategic planning for private sector companies (Johnson and Scholes 1993) became a tool for analysing the strategic choices made by colleges. Following desk research into the strategic approach of 60 colleges, three college case study sites were chosen; a sixth-form college, a general further education college and a specialist college. The research included an analysis of strategic planning documents and interviews with staff, governors and government officers. It identified that the three colleges had complex but different approaches to policy interpretation in planning. Policy levers, especially funding and inspection, had a significant influence on strategic choices combined with a hierarchy of other factors such as history, specialism and other provision locally. The majority of government officers interviewed were frustrated by their lack of ability to affect college strategies, especially when the provision on offer failed to match the perceived local need. The thesis proposes that whilst colleges do not share the range of strategic choices that truly independent organisations have, their individual institutional approach to policy interpretation varies. Three approaches are identified; a single focus with consolidation of the core mission, an entrepreneurial approach and a pragmatic one.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available