Bob Lingard - I. I.1,2 , 3

From Human Education in the 3rd Millennium

University of Queensland, Australia

I. Policy

1) Market, network and state models of education

2) How should we understand the relationships between education and work? The limitations of neoliberal models and education policy focused on economic production.

3) Dangerous trends

Educational Policy


Schooling systems are run/steered by policy. Public policy, including education policy, might be seen as ‘the authoritative allocation of values’ (Easton (1953). Elsewhere Fazal Rizvi and I (Rizvi and Lingard, 2010) have argued that each element of Eaton’s old public policy definition – authority, state allocation processes and values (ideologies, discourses) - has been challenged substantially by globalization and state restructurings in respect of education policy.

Thus policy authority today, the legitimate right to exercise power (a la Weber), functions globally, as well as regionally, nationally, sub-nationally and locally. For example, think here of the policy influence of the OECD in respect of schooling systems of wealthy member nations or of the authority of the World Bank in relation to policy in developing nations in receipt of Bank loans. Think also of the significance of the EU in education in European nations (Lawn and Grek, 2012), despite education being the responsibility of member nations under the principle of subsidiarity. Think also of UNESCO and the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG4.

Allocation processes are also changing because of state restructurings and new practices of statecraft. These restructurings have occurred through new public management with the state steering at a distance in a post-bureaucratic way through performance indicators/data and subsequently through the instantiation of network governance. The latter has witnessed civil society actors and particularly private sector actors (e.g. edu-businesses, philanthropies) enter the complex game of public policy formation, decision-making and implementation (Koppenjan and Klijn, 2004, p. 25). This network governance is stretched globally catalysing new scales and spaces of policy influence. Here we see different values coming into play.

This is the third element of Easton’s definition, values, which we might also see as ideology and discourses. Today these circulate globally and most often at the macro level see schooling in terms of the production of the requisite human capital to putatively ensure the global competitiveness of national economies. The hegemony of the neoliberal has also seen the valorising of competition between schools, encouragement of school markets and choice and a new self-regarding individualism as the way to enhance the quality of schooling with a proliferation of data central to this policy regime.

Much research has illustrated the negative impacts of this policy approach on social justice and quality concerns and also on the broad purposes of schooling. These changes to policy and policy making processes have substantially reshaped and rescaled policy making in education and its focus. Policy making imaginaries to some extent have been ‘debordered’, yet policy enactment ‘remains a stubbornly localized, context-specific process’ (Peck and Theodore, 2015, pp. xv-xvi).

Head’s (2008) has argued persuasively that all policy is an admixture of facts (research), values (politics, ideologies, discourses) and professional knowledges. As such, we can only ever have evidence-informed policy rather than evidence-based policy, which would instantiate a technocracy rather than a democracy. Head’s observation also points out the centrality of teacher knowledges to policy enactment. Today, research evidence flows more rapidly across national borders in conditions of fast policy making and research conducted by private consultancies, multinational consultancy firms and edu-businesses possibly has a more significant place in policy making in the situation of network governance (Hogan, Sellar and Lingard, 2016) with implications for the democratic and social justice purposes of schooling.

Key Points for Debate and Dangerous Trends

1. In context of globalization: Consideration of the appropriate scale/level for production of policy making in education and relationships between them (refers to the spaces/levels); path dependent factors (‘Path dependent’ refers to the way what happens now inevitably develops on what has gone before. In comparative education it refers to the ways global forces are mediated within nations and systems by their past histories); schooling and the nation; rise of ethno-nationalisms.

2. Place of UN’s SDGs and SDG4?

3. In network governance: Relationship between policy and policy making in education and democracy; including, roles of the state/elected governments, politicians, policy makers, civil society actors, edu-businesses, philanthropies, business, citizens, teachers, unions, teacher unions, research, regional and international organisations.

4. Who should determine education policy and how should it be determined? Policy as both text and processes. 5. Policy and purposes of schooling: schooling and the nation, schooling and the global; national and global citizenship; schooling for work/individual enlightenment; schooling and social justice; challenging human capital framings of the purposes of schooling; schooling and human rights and rights of the child.

6. Rise of test-based accountabilities: impact on broad purposes of schooling and thinking alternative modes of rich/intelligent accountability.

7. What is the ideal relationship between research and policy and policy making in education? Whose research? What kinds of research?

8. What ought to be the role of teachers, teacher unions, and students and parents in policy and policy making in education?

9. How must social justice in education be retheorised and reconceptualised in the context of globalization?

10. Data have become central to the reworking of the state in education with important implications for education policy. What is the place of ‘big data’ and digital learning assessment in democratic and socially just schooling? Is there a potential danger of these developments becoming de facto education policy and functioning in non-democratic ways, given the heavy involvement of edu-businesses and for-profit organisations in these digital disruptions?

11. What are the implications of digital disruption for education policy?