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Student access to the curriculum in an age of performativity and accountability: an examination of policy enactment

Harris, R., Courtney, L., Ul-Abadin, Z. and Burn, K. (2020) Student access to the curriculum in an age of performativity and accountability: an examination of policy enactment. Research Papers in Education, 35 (2). pp. 228-248. ISSN 1470-1146

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2019.1568528


The curriculum is often the target of reform and governments use a range of accountability measures to ensure compliance. This paper examines the decisions schools in England make regarding history provision, in a period of curriculum change, and the potential consequences of these decisions. Drawing on a large, longitudinal data set, of primary and secondary material, the study examines the relationship between the number of students entered for public examination in history in England and a range of situated and material factors (Braun, Maguire and Ball, 2010). The data suggest that particular measures of accountability are effective in shaping school decision-making, but the type of school, socio-economic nature of the school intake, and students’ prior attainment are also important factors in understanding the decisions made. This does result in an inequitable access to history education; this inequity exists between different types of schools and socio-economic areas, and is also evident within schools where students with low prior attainment are less likely to be allowed to study history.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:81643
Uncontrolled Keywords:policy; history education; curriculum; school decision-making
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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