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Critical friends: exploring arm’s length actor relationships to local government in education

Exley, Sonia (2016) Critical friends: exploring arm’s length actor relationships to local government in education. Journal of Education Policy, 31 (6). 742 - 756. ISSN 0268-0939

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Identification Number: 10.1080/02680939.2016.1166523


Discussions charting the changing role of local government in education have often focused extensively on ‘concrete’ policy changes over time, but have provided less detail on the contribution to changing power relations of less tangible shifts. Drawing on Foucauldian notions of discourse and governmentality, in this paper, detailed rationalities of local third sector and other ‘arm’s length’ actors in English education are explored, with a focus on their relationship to local authority (LA) school admissions teams. The paper aims to provide deeper understanding of tactical struggles for authority which happen within competitive local socio-political spaces. Data is utilised from a study of ‘Choice Advice’ (CA) in ten LAs, within a background context where arm’s length agents deployed to deliver CA have been co-opted into central government marketization regimes, but local state planning of schooling is arguably more equitable for vulnerable families than are logics advancing a marketization of education. The research reveals: 1) discourses valorising 'independence' and ‘distance’ from local state 'agendas'; 2) discourses separating the interests of ‘parents’ and ‘schools’, with LAs positioned as representing the latter; 3) dehumanising representations of LA officers as ‘faceless’, obstructive and requiring regulation from ‘critical friends’.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
L Education > L Education (General)
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2016 11:44
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:15

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