The English Primary National Strategy in four schools: a policy trajectory and case study

Curtis, Robert E. (2010) The English Primary National Strategy in four schools: a policy trajectory and case study. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (2MB) | Preview


This thesis investigates the multi-faceted approach to primary school improvement, the English Primary National Strategy, in two distinct stages; the first focussed on policy texts and discourses. I tell my story, from being a headteacher, through to becoming a researcher, positioning this research within the context of policy sociology. I examine the historical development of primary education, identifying themes leading to a critical analysis of the introductory Strategy document Excellence and Enjoyment (DfES 2003) and subsequent policy initiatives.

The second stage involved developing four ethnographic case studies, three in schools in isolated pockets of deprivation and one in a more affluent area of the English East Midlands. The notion of ‘tripping points’ is developed, identifying incidents and policies which impacted negatively and created tensions in two schools struggling to cope with a multiplicity of on-going strategy developments, alongside inherent difficulties. I highlight unusual circumstances in the third school and explain how creativity and innovation flourished there, with ‘tripping points’ being avoided, whilst in the fourth school few such difficulties were identified and staff were encouraged to develop as learners.

A critical analysis of standardised initiatives imposed upon three schools to meet performance targets identified further issues. The impact of these programmes, along with funding difficulties and concerns about the number and quality of staff needed to further raise achievement appeared problematic.

I argue that, to bring about sustainable change for these schools, far more than pressure, ‘workforce reform’ and efficiencies associated with the Primary Strategy are needed. This research suggests that until these schools have enough staff of high quality, and sufficient resources, the identified ‘tripping points’ will remain. I propose that the centrally controlled system and structure of primary education needs to be changed and the money saved directed towards these and similar schools and communities.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Thomson, P.L.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 11349
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2010 15:11
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2017 04:50

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View