Education Policy and Realist Social Theory: Primary Teachers, Child-Centred Philosophy, and the New Managerialism

By Robert Willmott | Go to book overview

Preface to Part III

OFSTED, School effectiveness and managerialism

Part and parcel of the new managerialist restructuring of the education system (which incorporates and expands upon the core principles of Taylorism) is the inspection system managed by OFSTED. Quintessentially, effectiveness and efficiency underpin the OFSTED rationale - technical matters about how best to improve 'standards'. The Education (Schools) Act 1992 established the arrangements for independent inspections (on a four-yearly basis) by registered inspectors to be trained by, and responsible to, OFSTED. Teams of inspectors, which include lay inspectors, are designed to provide 'regular and rigorous inspection under the watchful eye of the new and powerful Chief Inspector for Schools'. The arrangements for the conduct of inspections are detailed in the Handbook for the Inspection of Schools. The 'Framework' contained therein and the 1992 Act have established a public set of criteria about effectiveness. Whilst I accept Butterfield's point that the criteria go beyond the issue of 'standards', the Framework embodied in the Handbook is underpinned by the achievement of 'procedural objectivity' (Eisner 1991), which is designed to eliminate the scope for personal judgement. Indeed, the managerialist rationale means not simply that we cannot measure, for example, whether 'quality of life' has improved, but that any consideration of 'quality of life' per se is disavowed. Such issues are consistently played down by OFSTED (despite nebulous references to pupils' spiritual development and school ethos). In short, why-questions are consistently eschewed. As discussed in Chapter 2, qua performance indicators, SATs grossly distort reality because of their reductionism, by-passing the cognitive processes by which children learn. To recapitulate Ball's (1990) point, the parameters of OFSTED operate within the input-output logic of the commodity form and thus displace and exclude other criteria of judgement.

OFSTED's rationale and policy prescriptions are intimately connected with, and derived from, a large and particularly influential section of the academic research community in England and Wales. In fact, this research community forms part of an international School Effectiveness Movement (SEM). Research on 'school effectiveness' has become a major international industry. School effectiveness research has now had a major impact on policy-making at the national, local and school level. The DES

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Education Policy and Realist Social Theory: Primary Teachers, Child-Centred Philosophy, and the New Managerialism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Establishing the Theoretical Framework 5
  • 1 - Structure, Agency and Educational Change 7
  • 2 - Culture, Organisation Theory and the New Managerialism 40
  • Part II - Child-Centred Philosophy, New Managerialism and the English Education System 77
  • 3 - Socio-Cultural Conditioning 79
  • 4 - Socio-Cultural Interaction 103
  • 5 - Socio-Cultural Elaboration 119
  • Part III - At the Managerial Chalk Face 147
  • Preface to Part III 149
  • 6 - Southside 164
  • 7 - Westside: 190
  • Part IV - Concluding Remarks 219
  • 8 - What About the Children? 221
  • Notes 227
  • References 239
  • Index 247
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