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Colonising Communities? Community Engagement, Democracy, and the Articulation of Power in the Governance of Multi-Academy Trusts in England

Pennington, Andrew (2021) Colonising Communities? Community Engagement, Democracy, and the Articulation of Power in the Governance of Multi-Academy Trusts in England. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
Pennington Andrew Final Thesis.pdf - Published Version
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The purpose of this study is to examine the implications of academy status and the creation of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) for school governance, relations and engagement with communities and the accountability of schools in England.

The study employs a qualitative research methodology, using an instrumental case study of three MATs in England. Data were gathered through 11 semi-structured interviews with senior MAT personnel. A constant comparative method with the techniques of thematic analysis was used to develop a critical constructionist analysis to identify both: concepts and ideas; and assumptions and meanings. An abductive approach was adopted in which interview data, construction of themes and meaning and literature were in continuing dialogue as analysis proceeded.

Findings reported fall into three areas. Firstly, analysis of: the rise of transactional relationships, a deficit view of communities underpinned by a colonial discourse; centralisation of powers in the case study MATs; and the implications of these factors for the way community interests and voices influence decisions. Secondly, a critical examination of the business and market logics and ideologies driving the changes in school governance, community engagement and accountability in the case study MATs. Thirdly, critical examination of how these MATs’ accountability to their communities has become performative and underpinned by a business logic which reduces the opportunities for democratic participation in governance. The thesis also Identifies potential practices that might be developed in the governance of MATS to enhance community engagement and democratic accountability.

Taken together, these findings: show how a post-colonial lens aids understanding of the economistic and paternalistic ways MATs relate to communities and critiques the issue of governance in MATs; have significance for discussion of how governance arrangements might move away from marketised and consumerist models of schooling; and suggest how governance might be more responsive and accountable to communities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Published
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/6278

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