‘Quality’ in English education policy discourse, 1974-2016

Abbott, David (2023) ‘Quality’ in English education policy discourse, 1974-2016. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis argues that the policy idea of ‘quality’ in education policy re-described social class and (re)produced a field of interest, promoting not the common good, but the interests of both those who created and promoted the concept, and those complicit with them. What is required to explain the phenomenon of ‘quality’ is a post-Marxist class analysis, which treats class as explanandum rather than explanans. It is argued that this is something best achieved by adopting Hindess’ concept of forms of assessment, which refers to the ways political actors classify other actors. The study uses the methods of close reading and rhetorical political analysis to examine the forms of assessment used by political actors in the construction of education policy discourse on ‘quality’ in England between 1974 and 2016. Examination of White Papers and other documentary sources demonstrates that policy decisions and arguments about ‘quality’ were informed and guided by commonplace assessments of social class. These were subsequently institutionalized in a rhetorical process of state classification, reflecting a path dependency which was also rhetorical. The thesis concludes that the concept of quality is to be understood as a nodal point through which political actors were able to act strategically to restrict the definition of what counted as good schools, teachers and pupils.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Zoe White
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2024 15:54
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2024 16:17
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/94736

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