Is there autonomy in schools?

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Margaret Archer suggests the following:

Change could not be initiated endogenously because subordination never involves lower autonomy than when it occurs in a relationship of mono-integration. Dependence on a single supplier of resources makes education extremely vulnerable and highly responsive to control by the ownership group (Archer, 2013, pp. 63 -64).

Archer uses the concept of mono-integration to describe how education has a single relationship with another social institution. In England schools (acadamies) are mono-integrated with the Department for Education (DfE). The DfE is the single supplier of resources. The implication is that school autonomy is vulnerable:

The dominant group defines education in relation to its goals and monitors it closely to ensure that it serves these purposes (p. 64)

Interestingly, Archer is referring to education in a historical context. She is describing education in eighteenth century England, where the dominant group is the Anglican Church. She goes on to say that in the present day considerations of change would have to take account of the contributions of the professional body of teachers. Yet in the last five years, how much of this professional voice and expression has been diminished? Leading to the mono-integrated characteristic of the eighteenth century. It suggests that present day school autonomy is very limited, if in fact it is real at all.

Reference

Archer, Margaret, S. (2013). Social Origins of Educational Systems (2nd Ed). Routledge: Abingdon.

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