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An investigation of the implementation of the Academies Act 2010 in English Schools: Stakeholders’ lived experiences regarding policies and practices in English Academies

THORNTON, Louise (2018) An investigation of the implementation of the Academies Act 2010 in English Schools: Stakeholders’ lived experiences regarding policies and practices in English Academies. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

This thesis is based on a project which focuses upon academisation and its perceived impact upon the raising of standards. The study was undertaken in 2013. There were 18 participants in total. Sixteen were from 4 different schools and a consultant principal and an Executive Director for Children, Young People and Families were also part of the case study. The perceived impact is demonstrated through the lived experiences of various stakeholders in relation to the introduction of the Academies Act 2010. I adopted an interpretivist approach through the use of semi-structured interviews and analysis of policy documents. Case study was chosen to demonstrate the differing perspectives of stakeholders in the same setting and compare those to stakeholders in a different setting. Participants, all of whom had been in a teaching environment for at least 15 years, were of differing levels of seniority and roles.
I am a practising solicitor but used to be a qualified teacher. I have combined my expertise in law and education to produce an analysis of how a statute which is a national policy, has been received and interpreted at a local level by a number of participants.
The findings show that there was only one participant who was aware of the existence of the Academies Act as the policy which governs the environment within which stakeholders involved in this study work. They did not appear to perceive a direct link between the raising of standards and the academisation process. The perception of the stakeholders regarding the aims of the Act differed depending upon his or her role and level of seniority within the school and the position of the school academically and financially pre-academisation. The raising of attainment was only considered to be an aim by half of the principals or head teachers. Schools which were already high performing did not see academisation as a way to improve. Underperforming schools pre-academisation were in receipt of support and raising attainment was a focus in any event. Likewise, schools which were already financially stable did not see finance necessarily as an aim. However, the financial gain was seen to be an attraction which could bring with it the opportunity to be creative in the school’s use of the budget. Autonomy was the most popular response as an aim for academisation.
The process of academisation touched various elements within participant schools: finance, attainment, behaviour, curriculum, staff, collaboration, professional development, intake and ethos. However, overall, these were not directly linked to academisation.
Curriculum freedom to enhance pupils’ opportunity to be able to compete with pupils academically in an international arena was considered favourably to be an aim of the Act. The lack of awareness of the Act and its contents by the stakeholders minimises the potential of stakeholders to develop the schools when they do not appreciate the framework within which they work. Therefore, more attention to staff development concerning the Act could ensure that the schools are maximising the stakeholders’ potential and thus having maximum impact upon the schools. The position of a school pre-academisation and whether it was a converter or sponsored academy may affect the perceptions of those stakeholders. All schools saw an impact during the change to an academy. However, it is difficult for stakeholders to say whether the impact would have occurred or not if the school had not academised.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Education
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 13:51
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2019 13:35

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