Language, discipline and ‘teaching like a champion’

Ian Cushing

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20 Citations (Scopus)
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This article presents an analysis of various language policy mechanisms currently circulating in secondary schools in England, with a particular focus on those that intermingle ‘language’, ‘standard English’ and ‘discipline’. Although the connections between language, ideology and behaviour are well established within critical educational linguistics, this has not been explored in relation to current education policy in England, which is characterised by an overt focus on standardised English and behaviour ‘management’. In a grounded approach, I explore how the disciplining of language correlates with the disciplining of the body, based on ethnographic-orientated fieldwork undertaken in a London secondary school and drawing on a broad range of policy mechanisms such as curricula, textbooks, classroom artefacts and Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion industry. I show how the current linguistic conservatism found within government policy gets reproduced in school-level policies, pedagogies and classroom interactions, and highlight these relations within a network of policy actors and key terms associated with so-called ‘zero-tolerance’ and ‘no-excuses’ schools. I show how teachers are positioned as language policy managers who work within a system of surveillance, compliance, coercion and control. As such, this article contributes to current thinking within critical language policy and the sociology of education by offering an expanded view of language ideologies in schools, whereby connections between language and discipline are explicitly illustrated and critiqued.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)23-41
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Early online date13 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2021


  • Secondary school education

Research Centres

  • International Centre on Racism

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