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Educational Austerity and Critical Consciousness: English Primary School Leaders wrestling with Educational Policy shifts

Hammersley-Fletcher, Linda (2014) Educational Austerity and Critical Consciousness: English Primary School Leaders wrestling with Educational Policy shifts. Éducation comparée, 12.

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Abstract

Education systems across much of Europe (and indeed the world) are going through a period of challenge around growing and globalised market pressures to improve academic performance. Governments have shifted towards a market-based understanding of education which sees competition and freedom within tightly regulated accountability measures as solutions to problems within the education system (Levin, 1998; Whitty, 2005). Indeed, Europe is described as operating transnational policy-making (Moutsios, 2007). Freire (1985) has argued that education is political and that educators are political actors. This paper considers the perspectives of English primary school head teachers in relation to educational austerity and explores the degree to which they can operate critical consciousness, which Friere viewed as essential for emancipation and transformation. The paper argues that rather than being subject to the deregulation of education with greater autonomy devolved to schools, English primary head teachers are experiencing what Helgøy et al (2007) describe as the re-regulation of education and a reduction of autonomy which these head teachers find increasingly difficult to align with their educational values.

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