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Decentralisation, school autonomy and the state in England and Portugal: 1986-1996.

Francelina Marques Cardoso, Clementina (2001) Decentralisation, school autonomy and the state in England and Portugal: 1986-1996. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In 1987 the Portuguese and British governments initiated 'radical' changes to the organisation and provision of school education. Influenced by a programme which combined political and economic neo-liberalism, conservative social doctrines on family and nation and traditional forms of education, these two governments proposed to 'innovate' and to 'modernise' public management and governance. 'Decentralisation' and 'autonomy' were both essential principles and goals underlying the introduction of private market principles and mechanisms in public education. The translation of those principles and goals into policy and the objectives which they conveyed were at the centre of political and professional disputes in the two countries. This thesis traces the emergence and development of principles and objectives informing the reform of school management and governance and maps the change in administration, governance, financing and provision. The comparative study of this change begins with the consideration of why governments, in countries at different stages of social development and democratisation and with an increasingly diverse social and ethnic composition, embraced policy solutions derived from similar libertarian and individualistic economic and political definitions of social freedoms and rights. The aims of the thesis are to explain and to contrast the transformation of existing mandates for compulsory education and of the nature of professional practice and school relations; to map the trajectory of changes in management and governance in two local areas in each country; to discuss the early impact of these reforms on teaching and learning and the anticipated lasting effect on schooling. An integrated comparative approach is combined with policy sociology and a perspective of the state which takes into account national specificity and complexity and the emergence of a transnational new form of social regulation. Interviews were undertaken with key actors in both central and local national government, in regional services, representative groups with an interest in education and with those responsible for the management and governance of schools in the two countries. These interviews provide the core material to trace the influence of adopted principles over practice at local and school level. The thesis concludes with the analysis of the impact of reforms at the institutional and local community levels. It discusses comparatively the way in which political deregulation, re-regulation and combined deregulation/re-regulation coexist at the school level and influence change in the following areas; curriculum, assessment, financing, teachers' recruitment, pay and working conditions, inspection, school admissions, special educational needs and discipline. Similarities in political regulation are contrasted with the way in which principles and reform initiatives were expressed differently in Portugal and England. The various forms and mandates which reforms took nationally and internationally across areas of social reform and across education's sub-systems and, the different ways in which principles were translated into policy initiatives are taken into account when considering the long-term anticipated impact of reforms in both countries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Public and Social Welfare, Education, Policy
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Social Policy

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