The development of the academies policy, 2000 – 2010 : the influence of democratic values and constitutional practice

Stevens, Rosalind

September 2011

Thesis or dissertation

© 2011 Rosalind Stevens. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Understanding the causes and consequences of the speed and the radical nature of secondary school reform in England is the prompt for this PhD inquiry. The hypothesis is that there has been a shift in constitutional practice and a realignment of democratic values in informing schools policy. The work of this thesis, in tracking the development of the academies policy, reveals a marked shift in decision-making style at the top of government. In the years of the Labour governments between 1997 and 2010, policy-making was robust more than consultative; urgent more than deliberative; experimental more than careful. Policy-making in education also became more closely associated with the views of the prime minister. Hennessy (2001a: 507), in assessing Tony Blair’s political style, was worried by his ‘excessive prime ministerialism’ that ‘cuts against the collective grain’ and, in chapter 3, the ability for a prime minister to exploit the latitude provided by a mostly unwritten constitution to exert power will be discussed.

Three research questions will form the framework for this inquiry:

1. What does the development of the academies programme reveal about the
connection between democratic values and secondary education policy
2. How has constitutional practice influenced the development and scrutiny of
the academies policy?
3. What do the discourses of those who supported or contested the academies
programme reveal about democratic values and constitutional practice in
policy making?

Centre for Educational Studies, The University of Hull
Bottery, Mike; Feintuck, Mike, 1961-
Sponsor (Organisation)
University of Hull
Qualification level
Qualification name
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