Investigating Educational Policy Through Ethnography

ISBN: 978-0-76231-018-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-210-8

ISSN: 1529-210X

Publication date: 22 April 2003


The rise of a performativity discourse in education in England emanates from the importation of an economic ‘market’ structure for schools in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the outputs of learning and to increase the opportunity of choice for the ‘consumers’ of education (Ball, 1998). Institutions focus their policies and practice, on improving performance and survival to maintain and develop their market share. This is due to the competitive nature of a market structure. The performativity criterion of efficiency and effectiveness is an optimisation of the relationship between input and output (Lyotard, 1979). In the case of education this means both ensuring a favourable qualitative award from a national inspection service and raising the achievement levels of pupils in national tests to ensure a high position in published tables of educational performance. High ratings on these two performativity indicators improve a school’s attraction to parents and students in the educational market place. This results in improved resources, increasing the opportunity for the school to be more selective about the students it accepts and the quality of the teachers it employs.


Jeffrey, B. (2003), "PERFORMATIVITY AND PRIMARY TEACHER RELATIONS", walford, G. (Ed.) Investigating Educational Policy Through Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 111-129.

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