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Bilingual education planning through free school reform in England: a case study of new institutional development

Saville, KG; (2017) Bilingual education planning through free school reform in England: a case study of new institutional development. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study explores the extent to which free schools reform in England can facilitate innovation by considering how, and how far, parents and advocates of bilingual education have used this to establish state-funded bilingual primary schools. Currently little is known about either free schools or how markets foster language planning and the present thesis highlights not only the opportunities afforded to planners, but also the significant constraints encountered due to the compromises demanded by schools’ quest for legitimacy. Four case study campaigns were followed for six to twenty-one months, generating qualitative field notes, public document analyses, parent, leader and sponsor interviews alongside quantitative analysis of intake using the Annual Schools Census. Thematic analysis was informed by abductive engagement with the data in parallel with neo-institutionalist literature. Initial codes were clustered to form four analytic research strands, leading to four main findings. Firstly, institutional entrepreneurs and bricoleurs with significant networking skills and capital are key. For language communities without this, state-funded bilingual education is a distant dream. Secondly, for successful schools, the compromises needed mean such limited use of freedoms that they cannot be considered to offer bilingual education innovation. Despite this, founder parents’ power over language and location decisions means their language planning does appear innovative in the English context. Finally, to guarantee public legitimacy, campaigners carefully balance distinctiveness and mimesis by borrowing practices of the ‘best’ (often private) schools, leading to potentially socially segregating practices. However, early quantitative analysis of intake is inconclusive. The thesis ends by recommending that, to support innovation, the government should shelter new schools from statutory testing pressure. Sponsors should also be encouraged to support groups with less capital, in order to avoid the continued dominance of English monolingualism and reinforcing the perception of bilingual education as serving a niche elite in high status languages.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Bilingual education planning through free school reform in England: a case study of new institutional development
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: bilingual education, language planning, free schools, institutionalism, case study, parental agency
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1565524
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