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System redesign for system capacity building

David H. Hargreaves (Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 27 September 2011




A recent development in England is the emergence, under various names, of groups of schools working together in a variety of collaborative ways. Such diversification enjoys broad political support. In this paper, the author aims to argue that the trend is potentially a radical transformation of the school system as a whole. The concepts of coupling and capital are drawn on to show how these changes enhance capacity building at the level of the individual institution and, more importantly, at the system levels, both local and national.


The paper uses different conceptual schemes to throw light on the emerging phenomenon of partnerships between clusters of schools.


As this is not an empirical research paper there are no findings as such.

Practical implications

The paper is concerned with new policy directions, some of which are consonant with developments already taking place in England's education system. The analysis is intended broadly to support these changes but also to improve their design and implementation.


The conceptual analysis is original and has implications both for a theoretical analysis of inter‐school partnerships and for the practical issues of how such partnerships might evolve.



Hargreaves, D.H. (2011), "System redesign for system capacity building", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 49 No. 6, pp. 685-700.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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