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  • Author or Editor: Helen M. Gunter x
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This chapter reports on primary research into the experience of education professionals who are located at the interface of the privatisation of public education in England. Specifically data are provided from “dispossessed experts” who have moved into private consultancy through the push of redundancy from the public system and/or the pull of business freedoms as a rejection of public bureaucracy. I examine what it means to be located within a ‘conjunctural crisis’ through using the thinking tools of hysteresis, mimicry and misrecognition in order to examine the influence of corporate elites. Such influences impact on how individuals reposition at a time of major changes to identity and working lives (and livelihoods), where the neoliberal project is lived, revised and constructed through ordinary decisions and practices.

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This opening chapter presents and scopes the focus and argument of the book. Specifically, the use of leaders, leading and leadership by New Labour governments (1997–2010) as a strategic policy strategy for bringing about radical reforms to and within schools is outlined. The antecedence of this strategy is presented, and the particular contribution of New Labour is explained. It is argued that New Labour entered and made interventions within a vibrant leadership field, and not only consumed leadership knowledge from the leadership industry, but also contributed directly to the growth and status of this industry. The chapter concludes by presenting the position and approach of the book, and the underlying conceptualization evidence base for the study.

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This chapter opens by characterising the leadership of schools game by New Labour. Specifically, the importance of leadership as a central feature of reform is established, and specific examples are given regarding modelling, risk management, reculturing, restructuring and exclusion. A case study of the National College is presented in order to illuminate the political, cultural, economic and symbolic investment in the leadership of schools game.

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The leadership of schools game needed ‘players’ in the form of intellectual workers and commercial popularisers of particular forms of leadership knowledge and know-how. This chapter examines the relationship between New Labour policy and research evidence, and goes on to present evidence about the knowledge producers they engaged with and commissioned. A case study of the National College is presented as the site where policy and research interplayed in order to configure field activity and professional practice.

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The relationship between the state, public policy and knowledge is examined in this chapter, by examining how hierarchy, markets and networks operate. The argument is made that particular public institutions dominated the leadership of schools game, and so the connections and inter-relationships with networks are through institutionalized governance. A case study of the National College is presented in order to show the control by the state of this non-departmental public body, and how individuals and networks of researchers, consultants and educational professionals were brought into policy delivery.

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Chapter 4 provided an explanation of how public institutions inter-relate with elite private interests. The processes by which people within and outside of government exchange knowledge, know-how and vouch for each other are through regimes of practice. Two regimes are identified: the New Labour Policy Regime is made up of ministers, civil servants, consultants, researchers and professionals, and they played the leadership of schools game, decided the rules and who entered and who was excluded. The Policy Research Regime is made up of researchers and professionals who work on public policy research and seek to understand and explain government policy, and also develop alternative approaches. In between is a space occupied by those on the fringes of both of these regimes. This School Leadership activity has the potential to be a regime, but it is in decline. The position of the National College in these regimes is examined.

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The inclusion of practitioners within regimes of practice is the key feature of this chapter. The chapter draws on research evidence from headteacher data, and the location of professionals within the policy process is examined. Headteacher views and stories are mapped according to the regimes of practice, and the role of the National College is used as a case study to illustrate how training operates.

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This chapter explores the activity within regimes, with specific emphasis on objective relations and the exchange of leadership knowledge and products. The impact of the leadership of schools game on knowledge production is considered, and types of knowledge, knowing and knowers that are excluded are given attention. Examples of research with and about children, teachers, schools and communities are presented.

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This concluding chapter revisits the national standards agenda set up in Chapter 1 as the rationale for the leadership of schools game. The impact of this is considered through examining the situation post-2010 when New Labour left office and a Conservative-led coalition presented its education policies. The continuities in the leadership of schools game, particularly how the National College survived the cull of quangos, are examined. The book concludes by focusing on the politics of knowledge production: how the leadership of schools is about reducing the spaces for democratic dialogue, and what the possibilities are for research and field renewal.

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Western politicians consider that leadership is essential for the delivery of educational reform. This important and timely book examines how leaders, leading and leadership became the dominant theme in education. It presents an analysis of the relationship between the state, public policy and the types of knowledge that New Labour used to make policy and break professional cultures. It is essential reading for all those interested in public policy, education policy, and debates about governance and will be of interest to policymakers, researchers and educational professionals.

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