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Lecture by Dr Antonio Olmedo (University of Bristol) New landscapes and logics of competition in education: geography, demography and equity in English education policy

Graduate School of Education Lecture Series

This talk explores the new landscapes of competition in the English educational system. Such new landscape is part of broader processes of N/neoliberalisation, which involve not only changes at a structural level but also a reconfiguration of the subjectivities of political actors (from politicians to teachers and parents).

Event details

Our analysis here is of particular relevance in the contemporary context given the changes in the configuration and structure of educational provision as a result of the programme of academisation during the last decade. The Academies Act was passed in 2010 and it has been seen as the latest step of ongoing processes of disarticulation of the English education framework (see Ball 2013). Such new landscape is formed of an amalgamation of different types of providers, from the traditional state schools and fee-paying private schools, to a set of relatively new hybrid configurations, including individual academies and free schools, trusts, multi-academy chains, etc.

This area of academic research has gathered interest in recent years. Researches have focused, for instance, on mapping school catchment areas (Harris et al., 2016), the impact of catchment areas on choice & equity (Singleton et al., 2011; Allen & Higham, 2018), or the effect of such changes over performance (Burgess, 2014; Leckie and Goldstein, 2017). This talk presents the interim results of an ongoing research project that aims to contribute to existing literature by focusing its scope on the dynamics and operations of local education markets. To do so, during the first phase, we draw maps of local educational markets in three different geographical configurations (inner-city, suburb, rural areas). Here we aim to identify the changes experienced in such maps in terms of the distribution of schools in the past decade since the academies and free-school legislation was introduced. We are also interested in how the process of academisation has affected school demographics and performance indicators. The second phase aims to analyse qualitatively the dynamics of competition enacted by local actors on the ground. Here we explore the diversity in terms of general ethos, curriculum design and organisational structure in the chose local configurations. Furthermore, we explore existing competition dynamics as perceived by actors at the local level (parents, schools, local authorities). Finally, we reflect on how traditional spaces and networks of collaboration amongst schools have changed in the last decade and in what ways this is related to the ongoing process of academisation.

Dr Antonio Olmedo is Reader in Education Policy Sociology at the University of Bristol.  His research rests within the fields of education policy analysis and sociology of education, with a specific focus on the role of the private sector in education; neoliberal policies and the creation of quasi-markets; and global networks, international organizations, policy advocacy, philanthropy and edu-businesses.






Live Stream Link

AO_Exeter_presentation_2020.pdfAntonio Olmedo presentation 2020 (4205K)


Baring Court 114