Teachers’ discourses around accountability measures and low-attaining pupils: How an economic model of education has commoditised children

Yahyaoui, Leila (2021) Teachers’ discourses around accountability measures and low-attaining pupils: How an economic model of education has commoditised children. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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Abstract

In a bid to raise standards in education, policy has defined an accountability system for schools including Ofsted inspections, league tables and teacher performance management, that is underpinned by high-stakes testing. Pupils that fall below expected levels are regarded as ‘low-attaining’ and contribute to data which suggest schools have not met required standards. The present research explored GCSE teachers’ discourses around accountability measures and low-attaining pupils, and how these discourses upheld and/or challenged the structures in place that enable the system. A focus group was conducted with seven teachers who taught Year 11 in a high-performing secondary school. The transcript was analysed using Fairclough’s (2015) three-dimensional framework; a procedure for Critical Discourse Analysis. This framework required analysis at a micro-, meso- and macro- level, the latter of which was done using a Marxist lens. The findings illuminated three overarching discourses: ‘the ‘high-stakes’ nature of accountability measures is pervasive and all consuming’, ‘low-attaining pupils are problematic, with little value’ and ‘the structures in place that enable the system are upheld through avoidance’. The Marxist analysis proposed that the marketisation of schools has led to pupils being seen as commodities, with exam data as currency. This has led to differing levels of value being placed on pupils depending on the data they are able to produce. This has resulted in low-attaining pupils being seen as having little value, and not worthy of investment. The analysis suggests that this view of pupils contradicts teachers’ value systems creating cognitive dissonance, which they are motivated to reduce to continue working in the current education environment, ultimately upholding the structures in place.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology awarded by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in association with the University of Essex
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology, Edpsych Updates
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Groups/Institutions/Organisations
Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Learning & Education > Learning & Education in Psychology
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2496

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