‘Say it like the Queen’: the standard language ideology and language policy making in English primary schools

I. Cushing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
181 Downloads (Pure)


This article presents an analysis of the standard language ideology within a corpus of school-designed language policy documents from 264 primary schools in England. It examines the processes by which standard language ideological concepts (e.g. ‘Standard English’, ‘correctness’, ‘hegemony’) get textually manifested in school policies, and how these are intertextually and interdiscursively shaped by the broader educational policy context that teachers work in, notably the large-scale curriculum and assessment reforms of National Curriculum 2014. Using tools and methods from critical language policy, I reveal how new meanings emerge in the machinery of the policy-making process and at the contact points between policy levels. I trace how the standard language ideology within government policies gets reconstructed in school policies, with an emphasis on linguistic ‘correctness’ and the near-exclusive requirement for students and teachers to use standardised English in speech and writing. I discuss policies of surveillance, whereby teachers are discursively constructed and positioned as standard language ‘role models’: as powerful and authoritative figures who are granted a license to police, regulate and suppress their students’ language, whilst also having their own language controlled and monitored. Finally, I argue for the place of critical language awareness within the policy-making process at school level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-336
Number of pages16
JournalLanguage, Culture and Curriculum
Issue number3
Early online date2 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2020


  • England
  • Language policy
  • curriculum reform
  • primary schools
  • standard language ideology

Research Centres

  • International Centre on Racism


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