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Does autonomy exist? Comparing the autonomy of teachers and senior leaders in England and Turkey

Hammersley-Fletcher, Linda and Kilicoglu, Derya and Kilicoglu, Gokhan (2020) Does autonomy exist? Comparing the autonomy of teachers and senior leaders in England and Turkey. Oxford Review of Education. ISSN 0305-4985

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Abstract

Countries regarded as holding high levels of educational autonomy face a different set of constraints to that of countries with low levels of autonomy, these constraints being linked to the marketisation of schools. As schools become decentralised and given greater autonomy, school leaders are steered by a responsibilising framework that includes bureaucratic regulation, the discourses and practices of competitive enterprise, and external public accountability measures (Gobby, Keddie, & Blackmore, 2018; Wermke & Forsberg, 2017). This paper contrasts data gathered from school teachers and senior leaders from one high autonomy, high accountability context, England, with one low autonomy, low accountability context, Turkey. Through a process of semi-structured interviews with teachers and senior leaders, we investigated approaches to managing change. Responses revealed differences between countries with very different systems of accountability and the degree of autonomy available to staff. We also found that there were significant similarities in terms of the attitudes and pressures experienced by teachers and senior leaders that raise questions for our understandings and application of notions of teacher autonomy and accountability.

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