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ERIC Number: EJ839035
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1740-2743
Remodelling the School Workforce in England: A Study in Tyranny
Gunter, Helen
Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, v5 n1 May 2007
Remodelling the school workforce is being rolled out across England with official purposes articulated around work-life balance, improving standards, and the need to efficiently and effectively deploy staffing. This is not new and can be related to ongoing policy thrusts designed to restructure the state as manifest in the haphazard construction of site-based management from the late 1980s. I intend developing an intellectual argument about ways in which researchers and practitioners can engage with this major piece of government reform. Central to this argument will be to examine the how tyrannies form, how they work, how they sustain themselves and how they end. In particular, I will be examining the power structures that are embedded within Remodelling, and how the experiences of practitioners who are being remodelled and who are doing remodelling can be described, understood and explained. Schools in England are undergoing rapid centralised modernisation with structural and cultural changes taking place to those who practice, how they practice, who they practice with, and for what purpose. Consequently, the division of labour in regard to the place of teachers, their work and how they relate to other adults is being radically changed. New roles are being created to do with securing organisational efficiencies and effectiveness, new types of credentials are being required such as business administration, and new power relationships are being developed within the range of adults being employed, and in a situation where more non-teachers may work in a school than teachers. The reform is known as Remodelling the School Workforce and it has been phased in from September 2003. While the New Labour lexicon is of transformation, change, futures, improvement, effectiveness, and impact, much of what is currently presented as innovative reform is rooted in site-based management. Schools have had the right to hold their budget and to make decisions about the employment and deployment of staff since the 1988 Education Reform Act, and while Remodelling is being deployed as neutral, the reforms are being presented as a break with the past. However, history is embodied and is revealed within practice through how agency interplays with structures, and so how the individual experiences reform is core to this paper. I intend asking if Remodelling is a form of the tyranny of the ordinary. In doing this I am positioning the analysis as a form of "conceptually informed practice" (Gunter 2001) where I focus on how data is created, accessed, engaged with, understood and used. This runs counter to the traditional rational accounts of knowledge production, and Barnes (2004: 570) uses Hilary Putman's vivid metaphor of "brains in vats" to illustrate his point of the distorted nature of intellectual work as "disembodied, disconnected, disembedded". My position can be best summed up by Bourdieu's (2003) case for "scholarship with commitment" where politics and scientific rigour are productively combined. This is a legitimate position because what we know, who is recognised as knowing it, why we know it, and why we might want to know differently are matters that connect knowledge production with power structures. (Contains 3 notes.)
The Institute for Education Policy Studies. University of Northampton, School of Education, Boughton Green Road, Northampton NN2 7AL United Kingdom. Tel: +44-1273-270943; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)