Over recent years, education systems across the globe have experimented with the concept of the autonomous school. This takes a variety of forms and the schools involved have different titles, such as charter schools in the USA, academies in England, free schools in Sweden and independent public schools in Australia. As this radical trend in policy gains momentum, Inside the Autonomous School considers whether the model is achieving its desired aims. Drawing on evidence from an in-depth, longitudinal study of an academy located in an urban district in England, this book traces the various developments which took place in the school on its journey from ‘failing’, to achieving an inspection rating of ‘outstanding’.
The authors present a rich, first-hand account of the impacts that various policies and practices have had on the autonomous school and at the same time, situate their accounts and analyses within a wider national and international context. This leads them to consider what can be done to ensure that school autonomy consistently promotes excellence and equity within education systems.
A fascinating read and invaluable resource for practitioners, researchers and policy makers in the field of education, Inside the Autonomous School sheds much needed light on an increasingly established policy which is set to have far-reaching effects.
‘Inside the Autonomous School documents what actually happens when well-intentioned reforms are subverted by standardization and managerialism. At the same time, Salokangas and Ainscow provide us with clear lessons on what needs to be done to defend substantive autonomy in policy and practice.’
- Professor Michael W. Apple, University of Wisconsin, USA, and author of Can Education Change Society?
‘This book is a must for those thinking seriously about education. It maps the international trend of independent state-funded schooling, while also carefully reflecting on national distinctions.’
- Professor Becky Francis, UCL Institute of Education, UK.
‘In a field of policy littered with hyperbole, [the authors] subject superficial exhortations of "autonomy" and "innovation" to a serious empirical examination.’
- Professor Roger Slee, University of South Australia, Australia.
"This book takes a neat approach to the topic of school autonomy: it starts by describing trends at the global level, zooms in to give more detail to the reforms in England, and then spends the rest of the book detailing how these have played out over time at a particular (anonymous but real) school it calls “Parkside Academy”. This makes the whole thing very readable, and really helped to bring the issues to life."
- Mark Lehain, Schools Week
"This is a remarkable book… that shows how the rhetoric of autonomy is very much that- it is a rhetoric, a pretence, and a myth. Micro-management, top-down control, surveillance, and constant monitoring replace any supposed ‘autonomy’, freedom, trust, or professionalism"
- Craig Skerritt, Dublin City University, Ireland
"This book is rich in detail and insight. It shows what is happening in England not only in many academies, especially those in multi-academy trusts, but indeed across the system."
- Terry Wrigley, Northumbria University, UK
Foreword by Professor Priscilla Wohlstetter, Teachers College Columbia University Preface Chapter 1: A global trend Chapter 2: Independent state-funded schools in England Chapter 3: Phoenix rising from the ashes Chapter 4: Results, results, results Chapter 5: Like plastic dogs nodding Chapter 6: A turbulent year Chapter 7: The reality of local autonomy Chapter 8: Analysing global developments Chapter 9: Where next for autonomous schools? Appendix: Notes on inquiry methods References