Author: Annette Braun, Meg Maguire and Stephen J. Ball
Institution: Institute of Education, University of London
Full reference: Braun, A., Maguire, M and Ball, S.J. (2010) ‘Policy enactments in the UK secondary school: examining policy, practice and school positioning‘, Journal of Education Policy, 25 (4): 547 — 560
This paper presents an ongoing research study of the policy environments in four UK secondary schools. It examines how policies are interpreted and ‘translated’ by diverse policy actors in the school environment, rather than simply implemented. It aims to give a grounded account of the relations between policy and practice and a practical understanding of the challenges faced – and accommodations reached – by teachers in a period of policy ‘hyperactivity’.
The paper asserts that an analysis of policy enactment at a school level is about examining connections and inter-dependencies. Policy practices are framed by the ethos and history of each school and by the positioning and personalities of the key policy actors involved. Additionally policies are mediated by positioned relationships: between government and each local authority, the local authority and each of its schools, and within, as well as between schools.
The paper reports on an ongoing qualitative research study. The first part of the paper presents an audit of the policies encountered in four case study schools. The second part looks at one current English government policy, namely personal learning and thinking skills (PLTS), and how this is taken up in two of the case study schools. Research was conducted through semi-structured interviews with various policy actors in, and connected with, the schools, observations of policy events in the schools, such as training sessions and staff meetings, and collecting policy materials from the schools themselves, commercial consultants, local and central government.