Educational Policy and Practice - Comp. Q.


What is Educational Policy?

"A bit like an elephant - know it when you see it   

but it's hard to describe." (Cunningham, '63).


Policy is:

  • a plan of action.
  • used by government and political parties to influence.
  • dynamic and value-laden.
  • a process which a political system handles a public problem.


"Educational policy-making has become highly politicised."

(Olssen et al, 2004).

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Why is policy important?

critique of education.
~ informed judgements.
~ professional engagement.

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Dynamic Policy

  • conflict between policy makers and policy implementers.
  • interpreted differently through different levels (FILTER).
  • policy is complex to put into practice.
  • policy itself can be complex to understand what it's saying.
  • after filtered down, the outcome of the policy is different from the intentions.


"Policy is both text and action... it is what is enacted and intended."

Bell, 1994.


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Models of Policy Making

Top/Down -> made at high level and carried out by schools. No feedback from implementors.                        Clear and stable objectives. Solid outcomes which are not symbolic. (i.e. see the                      results).


Bottom/Up -> starts in the classroom and slowly becomes policy. Relies on supportive

                    management structures to support their staff.


Directed Collegiality/Change Sandwich -> a mix of top/down and bottom/up. Feedback and

                                                            discussion at all levels required.


AiFL - ££££'s spent on it but not alot of change.

Good example of top/down and change sandwich 

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Pre/Post Devolution

PRE -> no official view. Unofficial view that it was mostly                 top/down and very little collegiality.


POST -> politics taken a more noticable importance on                     education. Education policy largely devolved                         before Devolution (seperate education system).

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Implementation of Policy




    Local Authority.

        School - SMT.

            School - teachers.


Filtered through the levels. Each level has different interpretations and different values.


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Making Policy

3 Steps:

- problem identified.

- policy making process put into gear.

- political process begins.


Rein, 1983.

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Different people have different ideas about what society should be like.


2 ideological forces:



"a framework of values, ideas and beliefs about the way society is... how resources should be allocated..."

Hartley, 1983.

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