How has the English government engaged with International league tables and addressed educational disadvantage through policy initiatives? A critical policy analysis of inequality in education in the twenty-first century

Prof Doc Thesis


Nadesan, M. 2021. How has the English government engaged with International league tables and addressed educational disadvantage through policy initiatives? A critical policy analysis of inequality in education in the twenty-first century. Prof Doc Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanities and Education Studies
AuthorsNadesan, M.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Qualification nameCanterbury Christ Church University
Abstract

This enquiry is an analysis of the Education White Papers introduced in England between 2009 and 2016 regarding the intentions and initiatives of successive governments for tackling disadvantage, mainly using principles of Critical Discourse Analysis. The enquiry scrutinises England’s engagement with PISA results and the emerging OECD indicators, as policy makers in England determine how best to respond to the triennial comparisons and the variety of policies, practices and outcomes observed in other countries.

This study integrates Habermas’ locutionary aspect and performatory content in a framework to examine the relationship between the OECD’s indicators given to England and the responses to these propositions. Ball’s study of ‘policy as text, policy as discourse and policy effects’, together with Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction are included in the conceptual framework to analyse disadvantage within the complexity of the policies examined.

The terminology of social class occurs less frequently in policy documents in recent decades, replaced with language that can obscure recognition of the circumstances and challenges faced by marginalised communities. Properly joined-up thinking that would be required to reduce disadvantage is therefore bypassed, while education is imbued with vaguer concerns around inequality. The White Papers can be read as expressions of neo-liberalism rather than a deep engagement with disadvantage, with education deployed as a support mechanism in the wider prioritisation of the economy by English governments.

This thesis claims there has been a process of transubstantiation of economic capital, whereby the most material types of capital can present themselves through the constitution of a person in the immaterial forms of ‘social capital’ and ‘cultural capital’. The role of the parent in their child’s schooling is significant, as this means that class differences in attainment are perpetuated through cultural reproduction. Parents who possess the capital that is favoured by educational institutions position themselves as active consumers in education, thus using their cultural capital for the transmission of advantage across generations. The illocutionary and perlocutionary effects in the White Papers acknowledge that the propositions by the OECD are true and carry weight. Schools are provided with many initiatives that are clearly stated in the White Papers, to ensure that there is a good level of engagement with parents so that parents can fulfil their responsibilities effectively.

KeywordsEducational disadvantage; English government ; International league tables ; Policy initiatives; Policy analysis
Year2021
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Deposited30 May 2022
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