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    Institutional language policing and the maintenance of race-class inequalities

    Snell, Julia and Cushing, Ian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1752-1411 (2023) Institutional language policing and the maintenance of race-class inequalities. FORUM, 65 (3). pp. 128-141. ISSN 0963-8253

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    Abstract

    In this article we show how Ofsted operate as institutional language police and how the inspectorate’s attitudes about language maintain race-class inequalities under a guise of social justice, equality and evidence-based practice. Our findings are based on multiple datasets, including historical and contemporary school and teacher education inspection reports, inspectorate policy, classroom observations, and interviews with practicing teachers, where we have repeatedly demonstrated how Ofsted reproduce long-standing, deficit-based and colonial logics that marginalised children lack adequate language and that school is a place where they can be compensated for these supposed shortcomings. We outline three key areas of this research. First, we trace the kind of research about language that Ofsted draw on to build the so-called evidence-base which underpins its contemporary policies. Second, we reveal the language ideologies that circulate in school inspection reports and how the inspectorate evaluates the language of teachers and pupils. Finally, we show how these stances on language have direct impact on the lives of teachers and children in schools. We argue that the extent of the language policing and discrimination we have uncovered in Ofsted’s policies and reporting demonstrates that these are not simply individual mistakes but an institutionalised, systemic, and normalised feature of the inspectorate’s practice.

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