• The international movement of ideas and practices in education and social policy

      Ford, Neville J.; Hulme, Robert I. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2011-08)
      This thesis comprises eight publications produced between 2000 and 2009 in addition to a critical review of that work. The review considers the contribution made by the author to the perspectives on policy making offered by the framework of policy transfer and its subsequent applications within global social policy and related sub disciplines. It develops to explore the author's use of critical policy sociology and methodological work in social policy, education and political science in order to enhance existing perspectives on policy transfer. In contrast to rational linear models of decision making, alternative recursive deliberate approaches are suggested throughout this work. The review also considers aspects of the author's work on integrated working or trans-professionalism in the public services. Those aspects of his work on policy theory which illuminate professional learning are critically assessed.
    • The LGBT+ Pupil as the Abject: An Ethnographic Exploration of Subjectivity and Discourse in UK Secondary Schools

      Moran, Paul; Wright, Anne-Marie; Clark, Natalie E. (University of Chester, 2018-11-22)
      According to many scholars, schools are the last bastion of permitted homophobia (Beadle, 2009; Grew, 2008; as cited in Formby, 2013). Primarily using the theories of Foucault, Kristeva and Butler, the thesis uses critical theory as a means to both understand and critically analyse the construction of subjectivity within and throughout discourse in the hetero-/cis-normative institution, and how this related to the potential abjection of LGBT+ pupils. Whilst it is agreed in this thesis that LGBT+phobia is still widespread in both schools and wider society, it was found in this research that the impact of direct LGBT+phobic discrimination was less evident. Instead, the discursive spaces where LGBT+phobia had been silenced were filled with hetero-/cis-normative discourse. Concomitantly, the impact of LGBT+ invisibility, the silencing of positive discourse surrounding sexuality and the institutional rejection of performative LGBT+phobia without cultural or organisational change meant there remained a negative impact on LGBT+ young people, despite a reduction in visible LGBT+phobia (DePalma and Atkinson, 2006/2010). Through the use of short vignettes taken from a period of ethnographic research, I have used discursive reflexivity to offer an alternative discourse surrounding the LGBT+ pupil in the school. In a thesis preoccupied with language, the institutional denial of appropriate language, the lack of positive space for LGBT+ young people to construct their identity and the potential risk of abjection from the hetero-/cis-normative institution are all highlighted as points for discussion. Viewed through a critical theory lens, the exemplars used to illustrate these complex theories are chosen from 72 workshops undertaken in schools with Year Nine pupils over a the 2015 to 2016 academic year in the Merseyside region, and also from self-identified LGBT+ young people (also in Year Nine during the academic year 2015 to 2016), who were part of discussions in an LGBT+ Youth drop in based in Liverpool city centre. Intertwining academic analysis and philosophical reflection, the research finds that not only is the LGBT+ pupil abject in the school, but this abjection is threefold. It is enacted by the institution, the peer group and by the internalised LGBT+phobia of the abjected pupil. In the conclusion, it is reflected upon how the impact abjection from school continues to affect LGBT+ people into adulthood.
    • The Neoliberal Educational “Imaginary” as experienced by a group of Primary School Headteachers

      Moran, Paul; Carr, Victoria L. C. (University of Chester, 2019-05-14)
      In this thesis I undertake a critical policy analysis in which I place education reform in the UK within the context of a changing social structure, transformed since the advent of neoliberalism in the 1970s, and examine the implications of reform on the role of primary school Headteachers. In particular, I situate my analysis within increased promotion of global economic competition and policy supported by neoliberal ideology in which the prevailing government seeks to retain legitimacy by claiming to institute reforms to improve education, whilst simultaneously reducing direct funding which is, in fact, destabilising it. Neoliberalism is a distinct political ideology that has flourished in the Western world over the last four decades and is based on theories of the free market; underpinned by economic efficiency, bureaucracy, rationality and measurable performativity. I look in detail at how the leadership of schools has changed, as a direct result of the implementation of new managerial instruments, and how resistance to these changes has been largely futile. Lacanian thinking would suggest that ideology which assumes education is a physical state that is inherently part of a democratic process, inextricably linked to politics, positively transformational and measurable, is in fact imaginary (Lacan, 2006). Our imaginary “order is embedded in the material word” and woven into the reality around us (Harari, 2012, p.127). It is within this ‘imaginary’ conceptualisation that my research is positioned. I present, and analyse, empirical data gathered from a number of primary school Headteachers from a range of contexts that outlines their lived experience as they attempt to navigate the, what could be described as, strongly surreal or ‘Kafkaesque’ (Löwy,1997) educational ‘imaginary’, as it is currently configured and, explore the efficacy of a forum that is used to support them as they therefore attempt the untenable. The significant issue of school context as an effect of how a school performs in testing regimes is substantial. It is clear that context greatly impacts on the extent to which Headteachers must shift their beliefs and practice to satisfy performative expectations. I conclude with an acknowledgement that to attempt to rationalise the educational ‘hyperreal’ without an appreciation of power and manipulation is impossible and, that the role of primary school Headteachers may only be plausible with the scaffold of forums such as the one examined within this research.
    • Understanding Creativity and Alienation in Language Teacher Education: a critical ethnographic study

      Hulse, Bethan (University of Chester, 2015-02)
      This research explores the processes of learning to teach Modern Languages (MLs) in the rapidly changing landscape of teacher education. It employs a postmodern critical ethnographic methodology (Lather, 1991) to examine the experiences of a group of student teachers and me, as their tutor, over the course of a one year PGCE programme. The focus is on how experiences in University and in School shape their emerging professional identities, in particular how these experiences encourage or discourage the development of a creative approach to the practice of language teaching. There is evidence which suggests that ML teaching is often mundane and does not inspire young people to study Languages (The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), 2011). However, the pressures of ‘performative’ requirements which privilege that which is measurable (Ball, 2003) act as a discouragement to creativity. This thesis finds that whilst student teachers express a desire to be more creative, they find it difficult to implement their ideas in School. I draw on postmodern interpretations of Marx and Freud to problematize the notion of ‘professional autonomy’ and to argue that the early formation of professional identity is a process of acquiescence to oppressive external structures over which individuals have no control, resulting in the alienation of the individual from the work they do. I also explore questions concerning the nature of subjectivity and the relationship between the individual and the external world through Romantic philosophy and poetry. As both subject and object of this ethnographic study, I employ a reflexive methodology to explore the evolution of my own professional identity. The critical narrative emerges from the data, which reveals how professional identities are simultaneously constructed and alienated.
    • Understanding ‘belonging’ among undergraduate residential students: A Lacanian perspective

      Garratt, Dean; Moran, Paul; Hughes, Delyth Ann (University of Chester, 2016-03-31)
      This thesis seeks to understand how the notion of belonging is experienced by undergraduate residential students. Framing the research against the influence of neo-liberal policy and practices, this study employs a phenomenological approach and theorises the data using a poststructural framework. Throughout the thesis aspects of Lacanian theory are utilised as an interpretive lens, chosen for its ability to reveal that which is usually concealed. Beginning with an exploration of the reasons that ‘belonging to a university community’ is of interest to higher education student support practitioners, I conclude that this is a result of the therapeutic culture we are currently experiencing in education, along with a need to bring together a heterogeneous group of students who do not seemingly ‘belong’ together. This need comes from a desire to maintain higher education in its position as an elite pursuit which guarantees a better life. Yet paradoxically, in the current economic context, the achievement of a degree qualification can no longer guarantee a better life. Notions of belonging and community are therefore argued to be important in this context, as they serve to retain students and meet government objectives (which are to increase the number of students in higher education, thus sustaining the UK’s edge in a competitive global market). The data from nine participant interviews is analysed and interpreted through a poststructural lens. A poststructural framework is chosen based on my own experiences as a practitioner in this field: that our student support interventions which aim to engender a sense of belonging and community in students are somewhat flawed. Thus, my aim in this thesis is to understand from the students themselves how they experience belonging and community, and in doing so, understand if our University practices have had a part to play in this. Data from participant interviews reveals the themes of ‘stories, memories and rituals’, ‘place and home’ and ‘social networks’ and these are analysed with specific reference to Lacanian psychoanalysis, along with other theorists where relevant. Lacan is chosen as aspects of his theory allow me to take account of unconscious human drives, therefore revealing more than language can alone, and providing a more holistic understanding of how the phenomena are experienced. This thesis concludes with a phenomenological description of belonging, which is a pastiche of my participants’ voices. From this I draw the conclusion that the notion of ‘belonging to a university community’ is largely fictive, and symptomatic of a neo-liberal influence. I contend that experiences related to me by the participants suggest that ‘belonging’ is experienced in a way which is independent of any university interventions, and that ‘community’ is not recognised by students as anything other than a familiarity with their surroundings. I end the thesis with recommendations for student support practitioners and with a reflection on my research journey.