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Title: Independence as the constrained freedom to individuate : a study from an internal perspective of the aims and evaluation processes in early twenty-first century secondary schools belonging to the Independent Schools Council (ISC) associations
Author: Mannion Watson, Christine Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 8293
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Originally conceived as a school effectiveness study to address a gap in school effectiveness literature, which largely excluded the private sector, this research was designed to examine the purposes of Independent Schools Council (ISC) independent secondary schools which were free to set their own aims, and the ways in which they judged their success in achieving their goals, given that they are not subject to inspection by the government’s agency The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). As the study evolved, the focus shifted to an exploration of how independence was constituted in the schools studied, and the constraints under which they operate. The inquiry opens with an examination of the different categories of independent school and gives reasons for the choice of schools studied. This is followed by a review of literature relating to private schools, which is principally historical; studies of educational policy-making, and of the conflict between the individualist and collective aims of schooling. Initial scrutiny of the aims statements of 84 schools and accompanying questionnaire responses revealed the uniqueness of each school’s stated goals, although certain aims appeared characteristic of most schools surveyed, notably the development of individual potential and provision of a supportive environment. Further analysis highlighted the concept of individuation, both of the institution and of the pupil. Interviews with representatives of the inspectorate and a small number of headteachers, and analysis of a sample of inspection reports shed further light on this, particularly in the field of evaluation. However, the freedom to individuate was not found to be absolute. Constraints identified included government policy, external expertise, school personnel, concerns about social justice, and the need to market the school. The aims analysed largely reflected parental choice factors evident in the relevant literature, suggesting that neoliberal ideology also restricts a school’s freedom.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available