1st Edition

The Datafication of Primary and Early Years Education Playing with Numbers

By Alice Bradbury, Guy Roberts-Holmes Copyright 2018
    174 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    174 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Datafication of Primary and Early Years Education explores and critically analyses the growing dominance of data in schools and early childhood education settings. Recognising the shift in practice and priorities towards the production and analysis of attainment data that are compared locally, nationally and internationally, this important book explores the role and impact of digital data in the ‘data-obsessed’ school. Through insightful case studies the book critiques policy priorities which facilitate and demand the use of attainment data, within a neoliberal education system which is already heavily focused on assessment and accountability. Using an approach influenced by policy sociology and post-foundational frameworks, the book considers how data are productive of data-driven teacher and child subjectivities. The text explores how data have become an important part of making teachers’ work visible within systems which are both disciplinary and controlling, while often reducing the complexity of children’s learning to single numbers.

    Key ideas covered include:

    • The impact of data on the individual teacher and their pedagogical practice, particularly in play-based early years classrooms
    • The problems of collecting data through assessment of young children
    • How schools respond to increased pressure to produce the ‘right’ data – or how they ‘play with numbers’
    • How data affect children and teachers’ identities
    • International governance and data comparison, including international comparison of young children’s attainment
    • Private sector involvement in data processing and analysis

    The Datafication of Primary and Early Years Education offers a unique insight into the links between data, policy and practice and is a crucial read for all interested in the ways in which data are affecting teachers, practitioners and children.  

    Chapter 1: Introduction: the state, data and primary education

    Chapter 2: Theorising and researching data in education

    Chapter 3: Datafication in the classroom: The production of data-driven subjectivities

    Chapter 4: Data, reductionism and the problems of assessing young children

    Chapter 5: Schools’ responses to datafication and the visibility of performance

    Chapter 6: International datafication and business opportunities

    Chapter 7: Datafied learner identities: Towards an understanding of the future of data in education



    Alice Bradbury is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education, Practice and Society at the UCL Institute of Education, UK.

    Guy Roberts-Holmes is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Learning and Leadership at the UCL Institute of Education, UK.

    This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the methods deployed in the growing ‘datafication’ of education at ever younger ages and the consequences of this national and international trend, with the authors combining vivid examples and incisive critique of a powerful human technology.

    Emeritus Professor Peter Moss, UCL Institute of Education

    No sector of society appears to be escaping the rapid proliferation of data-based technologies of control and surveillance. In this insightful book, Bradbury and Roberts-Holmes comprehensively demonstrate that Early Years and Primary education is no exception. This book recognizes the need to initiate critical conversations about the current (mis)uses of data throughout schools and education systems. It also offers some perceptive ideas about what might be done differently …  a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of schools and schooling.

    Neil Selwyn, Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia