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Corporate Elites and the Reform of Public Education$
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Helen M. Gunter, David Hall, and Michael W. Apple

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781447326809

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447326809.001.0001

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The courtier’s empire: a case study of providers and provision

The courtier’s empire: a case study of providers and provision

(p.177) Twelve The courtier’s empire: a case study of providers and provision
Corporate Elites and the Reform of Public Education

Steven J. Courtney

Policy Press

In this chapter, I draw on Bourdieu’s concepts of symbolic violence, social capital and misrecognition to theorise three effects of a few elite multi-academy trust principals’ positioning on other local headteachers’ and principals’ agency and identities — I typologise these as the “follower”, the “acquired” and the “excluded”. The chapter reports on primary research which shows how newly privileged system-leading principals, or courtiers at the court of the Secretary of State for Education, have won regional empires through expanding their academy chains to occupy the spaces opened up by the dismantling of local authorities. Public-sector and school-leader identities and histories permit the promotion of their activities as “school led” and downplay their close relationship with private-sector networks and central-state policy-makers. What this analysis reveals is the hierarchisation of school leadership and the illusion of headteacher or principal autonomy.

Keywords:   system leadership, Multi Academy Trusts, MATs, Teaching school alliances, bourdieu, symbolic violence, misrecognition, social capital, headteachers, principals

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