Neoliberal tensions in the English education system: What factors influence schools’ decisions about joining a multi academy trust?

Dewes, Ian (2021) Neoliberal tensions in the English education system: What factors influence schools’ decisions about joining a multi academy trust? Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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The academisation of schools has been a significant change in the English educational landscape and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) are a particularly salient feature. While some schools have been forced to join MATs, most have made this change because their governing board has chosen to do so. Considering that (i) there have been numerous controversies connected to the MATs, (ii) there has been considerable opposition to schools leaving local authority control and (iii) the government has decided to not pass legislation forcing schools to academise, my research looks at the reasons why many governing bodies have still decided to join a MAT. In particular, I look at the neoliberal influences on the decisions of governing boards. I collect data across three different schools including a survey of the context in which the board governs, an analysis of the minutes of board meetings and conduct semi-structured interviews with governors. I use content analysis and discourse analysis to enrich my understanding of the data. I argue that MATs epitomise neoliberal values and I find evidence that the established theory (previously untested in this area of education) of neoliberalism persisting through the creation of crises, which in turn lead to more neoliberal policies, explains why many schools have joined MATs. I identify a powerful set of influences on decisions made in the case study schools and a normalisation of neoliberal traits in education which has the effect of making many governors feel that joining a trust is common sense from their perspective. However, I find evidence in the case studies where the progress of neoliberalism is disrupted by neoliberalism itself and this leaves in doubt the government’s goal for a fully academised system.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
July 2021Submitted
December 2021Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neoliberalism, governance, academies, multi academy
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Education and Social Work
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2022 12:16
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2024 15:15

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