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A critique of the teaching standards in England (1984-2012): discourses of equality and maintaining the status quo

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Heather Smith


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This study presents a critical analysis of the state-prescribed teaching standards from 1984 to 2012 in order to reveal discourses of equality imbued within. Critical discourse analysis and critical race theory are employed to explore and explain how the discourses of equality are shaped by the prevailing political ideology of the state. Up to 2007, the analyses revealed the gradual emergence of two seemingly incompatible discourses: recognition of the difference within notions of appropriacy of curriculum input vs. the assertion of a homogenised knowledge valid for all. It is argued that because this tension remained unexamined in the documents, damaging assumptions of deficit were obscured, thereby effecting a failure to critique the hegenomic norms against which such deficit was assumed, with the ultimate effect of maintaining the status quo of inequitable outcomes. The standards of 2012 also operate to maintain the status quo, but do so far less discretely. Here homogeneity appears overtly approved through an overarching assimilationist agenda. Deficit is now more openly articulated as attached to those who need to assimilate. The paper concludes with ideas for an alternative transformative teacher education.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Education Policy

Year: 2013

Volume: 28

Issue: 4

Pages: 427-448

Print publication date: 23/11/2012

ISSN (print): 0268-0939

ISSN (electronic): 1464-5106

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2012.742931


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