1st Edition

Autonomy, Accountability and Social Justice Stories of English Schooling

By Amanda Keddie, Martin Mills Copyright 2019
    154 Pages
    by Routledge

    154 Pages
    by Routledge

    Autonomy, Accountability and Social Justice provides an account of recent developments in English state education, with a particular focus on the ‘academisation’ of schooling. It examines how head teachers, teachers and others working in diverse education settings navigate the current policy environment. The authors provide readers with insight into the complex decision-making processes that shape school responses to current educational agendas and examine the social justice implications of these responses.

    The book draws on Nancy Fraser’s social justice framework and her theorising of neoliberalism to explore current tensions associated with moves towards both greater autonomy for and accountability of state schooling. These tensions are presented through four case studies that centre upon 1) a group of local authority primary schools, 2) an academy ‘chain’, 3) a co-operative secondary school and 4) an alternative education setting. The book identifies the ‘emancipatory’ possibilities of these approaches amid the complex demands of autonomy and accountability seizing English schools. Informed by a consideration of market parameters and social protectionist ideals, this examination provides rich insights into how English schools have emancipatory capacity.

    Autonomy, Accountability and Social Justice makes a major theoretical contribution to understandings of how the market is working alongside the regulation of schooling and the implications of this for social justice. By drawing on the experiences of those working in schools, it demonstrates that the tensions associated with autonomy and accountability within the current education policy environment can be both productive and unproductive for social justice.


    Chapter 1. English Schooling, Social Justice and Neoliberalism

    Chapter 2. School Autonomy, School Accountability and Social Justice in English Education

    Chapter 3. Academisation and School Collaboration: A Story of Six Primary School Leaders

    Chapter 4. New Modalities of State Power: Neoliberal Responsibilisation and the Work of Academy Chains

    Chapter 5. Co-Operating in a Competitive Marketplace

    Chapter 6. Alternative Provision: A Destination of Last Resort or Convenient Dumping Ground?

    Chapter 7. The Ambivalences of Emancipation for Social Justice


    Amanda Keddie is Professor of Education, Deakin University, Australia. Her research examines gender, cultural diversity, social justice and schooling. Recent books include: Leadership, Ethics and Schooling for Social Justice (2016), The Politics of Differentiation in Schools (2017) and Supporting and Educating Young Muslim Women: Stories from Australia and the UK (2017).

    Martin Mills is Professor of Education and Director of the Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research at the IOE, University College London. His work is centred on social justice issues in education. Recent books include: The Politics of Differentiation in Schools (2017), Reimagining Schooling for Education (2017) and Alternative Education: International Perspectives on Policy and Practice (2018).

    In this groundbreaking, conceptually innovative text, Keddie and Mills disentangle the messy relationship between social justice and neoliberalism by turning their critical attention to one of the most ambitious and controversial projects in education system redesign: England’s academies programme. Thought provoking and boundary crossing, Keddie and Mills judiciously combine theory and evidence to grapple with the tensions and contradictions inherent to the movement of academisation as it successfully rebuffs local politics and democratic structures only to reinstate similar, albeit opaque, structures and practices of liberation and domination. Not content with some of the well-trodden platitudes of anti-academy rhetoric and related romanticisation of the past order of things, Keddie and Mills move beyond the obfuscatory language of binary thinking, of public (good) versus private (bad), to unravel the strange alignments and productive overlaps that make up the dis-embedding and re-embedding effects of academisation. This book captures the complexity of the current moment and provides a much-needed starting point for thinking through the problematics and pragmatics of achieving socially just forms of education under academisation and similar education systems undergoing market experimentation.

    Andrew Wilkins, Reader in Education, University of East London

    This is a timely appraisal of the English education system from a social justice perspective. Documenting the rapid quasi-marketisation of schooling in England (and elsewhere), Keddie and Mills apply a social justice lens to the troubled issues of autonomy, accountability, and the educational outcomes and experiences for vulnerable students. In a climate of teacher shortages and growing questions around models of accountability, this challenging book will be important reading for those wishing to ensure that socially-just values and outcomes are at the heart of developments.

    Becky Francis, Director, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

    Given their relatively recent inception, England’s academies have until lately remained an under-researched area. Thus, this new book by Amanda Keddie and Martin Mills makes for a great addition to the emerging body of research that has offered a voice to those working in these schools and will serve as a useful tool for helping us understand how school autonomy is being embraced, enacted, and experienced.

    Craig Skerritt, Researcher, Dublin City University, Leadership and Policy in Schools