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Title: In pursuit of transformation : a complex responsive processes perspective on the enactment of improvement strategies in the everyday practice of two primary schools in England
Author: Bates, Agnieszka
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the enactment of the National Strategies for school improvement in two English primary schools. Within a qualitative case study design, data were collected on the everyday practice of school professionals employing the instruments of 27 semi-structured interviews, on-site observations and documentary data analysis. The data were interpreted within a social constructionist paradigm and a conceptual framework based on complex responsive processes theory in combination with discourse analysis. The political context for this enquiry is the relentless implementation of neoliberal policies in the English education sector and their reinforcement by the now deeply embedded audit regime. According to complex responsive processes theory, centrally designed and controlled strategy ignores the vital influence of human interdependence and the emergent nature of social change. Critically, target-driven reform focuses practitioners’ attention on idealised, ‘abstract’ children at the risk of severing their connection to children as they really are: embodied, emotional, susceptible, vulnerable. Complex responsive processes theory brings into focus the choices we can make, both individually and collectively, therefore illuminating the responsibility each of us holds for the current condition and the future of education. Within the patterns of conversation in the case study schools, practitioners appeared to be conflicted by the imperatives of target-driven agendas and their personal commitment to the child. However, the patterns of conversation also signalled a strong convergence with the dominant discourse of school improvement which defines educational transformation as the delivery of national targets and standards. This thesis contends that the prevalence of government improvement discourse in primary schools may have narrowed the educational experience of children by reducing teaching to a target-driven assessment cycle. It is argued that as a consequence of government strategy enactment in primary schools, children have become reconstructed as instruments for measuring the effectiveness of the system rather than being the recipients of ‘improved education’.
Supervisor: Terzi, Lorella Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available