1st Edition

Working in a Survival School Exploring Policy Tensions, Marketisation and Performativities

By Lee Del Col, Garth Stahl Copyright 2023
    184 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Working in a Survival School documents how global educational policies trickle down and influence school cultures and the lives of educators and educational leaders. The research traces the everyday work and experience of educators within an all-boys Catholic college suffering an unprecedented decline in enrolment numbers. In short, it was a school in ‘survival mode.’

    Drawing on Dorothy Smith’s scholarship on Institutional Ethnography, the authors document how the school operated and how its efforts to survive influenced the daily work of educators.Institutional ethnography reveals the school as a bounded space subject to a variety of competing local and translocal forces that are historical, political and economic in nature. Exploring the discursive and material effects of policy on both the work and identities of educators, the authors illustrate how the everyday experience of being an educator is shaped by marketisation and how leaders engage in stratagems to promote the school as a vehicle of educational excellence and quality to lure clientele. Building on existing scholarship in educational policy studies and new public management, Working in a Survival School considers how the global marketisation of education systems is experienced in one school fighting to survive. 

    This book is of interest to educators, school leaders and academics interested in policy enactment.

    Introduction. Part I. 1. Neoliberal Schooling in Glo/local contexts 2. Educational Policy in Australia 3. Institutional Ethnography 4. The Research Site: A School in ‘Survival Mode’ Part II 5. Marketising the school: policy, partnerships and culture 6. Leading in a survival school: policy tensions, mixed messages and New Public Management 7. Enacting external and internal policies: the work of teachers in tension 8. Survival and implications for educating boys 9. Reflections and conclusions. Appendix A. Appendix B


    Lee Del Col is an educator and school leader in South Australia with over 15 years of experience in both primary and secondary settings. Throughout his career, he has worked in co-educational and single-sex schools within Catholic Education. Lee holds Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral awards in education, with research interests in educational policy, learner identities and school-based masculinities. 

    Garth Stahl is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research focuses mainly on class disadvantage and social mobility specifically with men from working-class (and working-poor) backgrounds. His research projects encompass theoretical and empirical studies of learner identities, sociology of schooling in a neoliberal age, educational reform and gendered subjectivities.