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      More fragmented, and yet more networked: Analysing the responses of two Local Authorities in England to the Coalition's 'self-improving school-led system' reforms

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            Abstract

            This paper explores school reform in England under the Conservative-led Coalition government, elected in 2010, through a focus on the changing roles and status of Local Authorities (LAs). The Coalition's stated aim was the development of a 'self-improving, school-led' system in which LAs should become 'champions for children'. The paper draws on two locality case studies and a set of future scenarios and policy narratives to analyse the ways in which LAs and school leaders are responding to reform. The paper concludes that the Coalition focused its attention on structural reform, but that this placed an additional onus on leadership agency within local school systems to shape contextually appropriate solutions. The schools in the two areas studied appear to have become more fragmented and yet – paradoxically – more networked; however, they are not yet working in the 'deep partnerships' envisaged by Hargreaves (2010). This has meant that the LAs have needed to sustain their traditional roles (for example, in providing challenge and support to schools), whilst simultaneously evolving new ways of working (for example, providing 'bridging social capital'). These roles may sometimes be in tension, but are driven by different factors: LA-level accountability in the case of challenge and support, and reduced funding in the case of 'bridging social capital'. This suggests that the Coalition's conflicting policy narratives were in tension and that the notion of LAs as 'champions for children' requires review.

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            Journal
            10430
            London Review of Education
            IOE Press
            1474-8460
            18 September 2015
            : 13
            : 2
            : 125-143
            Article
            1474-8460(20150918)13:2L.125;1- s11.phd /ioep/clre/2015/00000013/00000002/art00011
            10.18546/LRE.13.2.11
            5bd214a3-f140-4e6e-a6e1-f96c421b94eb
            Product
            Categories
            Articles

            Education,Assessment, Evaluation & Research methods,Educational research & Statistics,General education
            SELF-IMPROVING SYSTEM,SCHOOL-LED SYSTEM,SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS,SYSTEM LEADERSHIP,SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT,SCHOOL NETWORKS,SCHOOL LEADERSHIP,SCHOOL-TO-SCHOOL SUPPORT,MEDIATING LAYER,MIDDLE TIER,LOCAL AUTHORITIES

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