Problems, conflicts and school policy: A case study of an innovative comprehensive school.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:15 by Andrew Hannan
This study focuses on the school as an organization in a sense which has been neglected in previous work. Here the aim is to understand and explain how the school changes in terms of the conflict of ideologies amongst staff and the process of formulation of school policy. The study is set within the context of previous case studies of educational innovation as an attempt to analyse the forces behind organizational change and persistence in a school pledged by its official description to an innovative programme aiming at the ideals of 'openness'. The case study upon which this thesis is based was carried out in the first year that this upper school had a fully compulsory and comprehensive intake in both fourth and fifth years. The school had previously been partly voluntary in the sense that students could opt not to join the upper school for two years but to remain in their high school for a further one year only. The effects of the raising of the school leaving age to sixteen served as a challenge to the prevailing liberal ethos of the school and the series of innovations it inspired. The data, in the form of information from interviews, questionnaires and field notes, were collected by means of a year of participant observation. This thesis gives an account of problems and conflicts experienced in this year and shows how the changes in the policy of the school can be seen as the outcome of a process of ideological conflict and political negotiation. The study thus focuses on the institutional setting as one of the levels of educational reality and shows how innovations in educational policy are challenged by factors both internal and external to the school.