A field analysis of a 14-19 educational partnership

HOLMES, Stephen (2017). A field analysis of a 14-19 educational partnership. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

Over the 2002 to 2010 period of New Labour administration, a key strand of educational policy was the notion of 14-19 education. A key component of which was a belief that for this to be delivered most effectively, organisations needed to work in partnership. This research aimed to understand and explain the operation of a 14-19 partnership, of which I was a member, and to suggest possible ways in which its operation could be improved. It was carried out as the Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition was introducing significantly different accountability measures for the 14-16 age group. A critical realist methodology was used as the ontological and epistemological basis (Bhaskar 1998; Bhaskar 2008). Since such a methodology does not have a preferred underpinning theoretical framework, results were predominantly analysed through the lens of Bourdieu’s triad of sociological principles of habitus, field, and capital (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992). Where appropriate, results were also framed by performativity (Lyotard 1984) and partnership perspectives from education (Hodgson and Spours 2006) and organisational studies (Contractor and Lorange 2004). Two key data collection methods, both from the perspective of an insider researcher, were used. Participant observation was used to obtain in situ evidence of partnership operation. In addition, eleven senior managers from partnership organisations were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. An analysis of field positions and a reflexive self-analysis were also carried out. This study identified that, for this partnership, the introduction of ‘Progress Eight’ led to the partnership’s demise. Using empirical evidence, the study provides theorised explanations of factors that affected partner engagement within this particular ‘weakly-collaborative’ 14-19 partnership, thus providing a number of original contributions to knowledge. It extended conceptions of educational partnership based upon theories of social capital by linking partnership engagement to capital exchange, capital cost-benefit analysis and the influence of government statist capital. The study also provided an early indication of the likely influence of ‘Progress Eight’ on partnership behaviour and, more generally, on the 14-16 curriculum within schools. Finally, the research methodology is an operationalised example of how a Bourdieun theoretical framework could be combined with a critical realist ontology to research the educational organisation context.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2017 16:01
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 04:39
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15854

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