Talking about schools: Towards a typology for future education

Rix, Jonathan and Twining, Peter (2007). Talking about schools: Towards a typology for future education. Educational Research, 48(4) pp. 329–341.


In recent years there has been increasing interest in creating diversity of educational provision to
meet the full range of needs presented by learners. This is both a reflection, and a partial
consequence, of the three central agendas for schooling in many countries — standards, choice and
inclusion, and the growth in information communication technologies and associated systems. The
complexity of available ‘school’ types makes it increasingly difficult for individuals to explore the
differences between the educational programmes on offer.

The purpose of this paper is to map the different forms of provision into a typology that will be
provide theorists, practitioners, users and policy-makers with a clear set of descriptors to explore
current structures and to consider future developments. Nine types of education programme are

Theoretical origins
The paper takes the three distinct alternative education types, identified by Raywid, as a startingpoint
for this Educational Programmes Typology. It also draws upon the work of Aron, in which the
characteristics of alternative education are outlined according to their relationship to other
education systems, their target population, primary purpose, operational setting, educational focus,
administrative entity, credentials offered and funding sources.

Main argument
The paper broadens Raywid’s and Aron’s typologies so as to include the identifiers for the full range
of education programmes offered to learners, not just those who typically have additional needs. Six
additional educational programme types are presented, which describe current provision within
open entry, selective entry, special educational, home learning and adult learning settings. Type 8 is
proposed as representing a possible educational system of the future. This reflects social and
cultural developments, the evolution of information communication technologies and other
technologies, and our changing understandings of learning theories and practices.

The proposed typology needs to be tested against a wide range of possible settings in different
countries and education systems, but offers a useful tool for looking across boundaries of culture
and practice. It provides an accessible vocabulary for exploring current learning programmes and
those we create in the future.

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