Reculturing schools in England: how ‘cult’ values in education policy discourse influence the construction of practitioner identities and work orientations

Agnieszka Bates

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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The imperative of continuous improvement has now become normative in education policy discourse, typically framed as setting ‘aspirational’ targets for pupil performance as a prerequisite for gaining competitive advantage in the global economy. In this context, teachers, leaders, teacher assistants and other practitioners working in schools across England have been under increasing pressure to raise standards. This article focuses on how values are deployed in reculturing and regulating practitioners to develop identities and work orientations which are congruent with the policymakers’ agendas. G.H. Mead’s concept of ‘cult’ values illuminates the process of fostering homogeneity with the dominant policy discourse through an inclusion/exclusion dynamic. Interview data collected in two primary schools revealed a significant convergence of practitioner discourse with policy objectives. Delivering improvement affects how practitioners talk about their work and see themselves as educators. The ‘cult’ of continuous improvement appears to inhibit a critical approach to the implementation of education policies by school practitioners in their everyday work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-208
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2015


  • continuous improvement
  • education policy
  • exclusion
  • values
  • G.H. Mead

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