Using Giddens structuration framework to investigate board level strategy making in English Multi Academy trust schools

Baxter, Jacqueline (2017). Using Giddens structuration framework to investigate board level strategy making in English Multi Academy trust schools. In: ECER 2017, Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change: Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research, 21-25 Aug 2017, Copenhagen.


The restructuring of European education systems is leading to new relationships between state, local government and schools. Transnational policy innovations are placing increasing pressures on those who lead and govern schools (Moos & Paulsen, 2014). In England as in many other OECD countries (Moos & Paulsen, 2014) these elements combine with a political drive that seeks to on one hand encourage the self-improving school (Hargreaves, 2010), whilst on the other introducing more constraining systems of accountability and control (Baxter & Clarke, 2013). Within this school boards are central to systems of education governance, leadership and accountability. In the case of England rapid and sweeping changes to the system of education since 2010 have created challenges for board members, not only with respect to their work in the oversight of increasingly complex school structures, but also in ensuring that public value is maintained within this increasingly diverse public service and creating and implementing proactive strategy at board level. At a time when many boards are struggling to remain in touch with their communities-as a result of the skills based approach to recruitment-this paper draws on data from a project funded by The British Council Leverhulme Trust ,in order to investigate the use of Giddens structuration framework (Giddens, 1984)as an analytical tool to investigate how board members create and implement strategy within this system. The paper discusses the use of the framework in both informing knowledge about board members approach to democratic strategizing and its value in adding to knowledge about this area which may be used for both academic and practical development purposes. Drawing on data from 50 qualitative interviews from 6 multi academy trusts in the North of England, national leaders of governance and policy makers alongside official policy documents and board member support documentation and inspection guidance, it concludes that the framework offers both practical and academic insights into a hyper complex area.

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