Public battles and private takeovers: Academies and the politics of educational governance

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Public battles and private takeovers: Academies and the politics of educational governance

Introduced to the British education system under the Education Act 2002 and later enshrined in the New Labour government White Paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All (DfES, 2005), the Academies policy was set up to enable designated under-performing schools to ‘opt out’ from the financial and managerial remit of Local Authorities (LAs) and enter into partnerships with outside sponsors. A radical piece of policy legislation, it captured New Labour's commitment to (further) private sector involvement in public sector organisation - what might be termed a neoliberal or advanced liberal approach to education reform. A consequence of this has been the expansion of school-based definitions of ‘public accountability’ to encompass political, business, and other interest groups, together with the enlargement of the language of accountability itself. In this paper I address the importance of rethinking conventional public/private, political/commercial divides in light of these developments and foreground the changing nature of state power in the generation and assembly of different publics.

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