“Teachers repositioned and governed by dominant political rationalities …” Understanding performative pressures experienced by Heads of Physical Education (HoPE) within six Free Schools

Gareth Williams, Adam Burrows, Dean Williams

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Abstract

This paper looked at educational realities faced by middle managers within the growing number of Free Schools in England. Heads of Physical Education (HoPE), key policy actors within the middle tier of school management, have had to contend with performative pressures resulting from limited resources made available to run both curricular and extracurricular programmes. A Foucauldian analysis based on the concepts of governmentality and ethics was utilised to comprehend the self-regulating behaviours that follow within this context. Six high schools in the North West of England were selected for in depth interviews; grounded theory was chosen to categorise data as it was collected. Findings revealed that HoPE in Free Schools faced the dominant political rationality of inspections leading towards pressures manifest in an increase in the use of performative language. These behaviours were perceived by younger HoPE as “professionalism” and as “playing the game” by older, more experienced counterparts. Such internalisation of behaviour was seen as the norm for the former, while more experienced HoPE used limited policy spaces to skilfully negotiate desired outcomes, in this case changes to annual performance review criteria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Review
Early online date29 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • Performativity
  • free schools
  • physical education
  • middle management
  • governmentality

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