On the need for well-founded educational authority in England

Geoffrey Hinchliffe

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My aim in this paper is to raise the question of educational authority in terms of a philosophical and historical understanding in the context of a democratic polity. In particular, I wish to advance the view that educational authority in England is not well-founded since it resides increasingly with the Secretary of State for Education. This fails to reflect the public nature of education and also local conditions. The lack of appropriate authority contributes to many problems, the most prominent of which are the contested nature of education and schools provision and the frustrating fact that policies at national level change so frequently. Drawing on the discussion in Amy Gutmann’s Democratic Education, it examines differing conceptions of educational authority and proposes a tentative solution, which draws on the experience of the School Boards movement in England, 1870–1902

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-827
Number of pages17
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2013


  • authority
  • middle tier
  • School Boards
  • legitimacy
  • democractic culture
  • Secretary of State
  • Gutmann

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