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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 usual suspects? Free schools in England and the influence of corporate elites

The usual suspects? Free schools in England and the influence of corporate elites

(p.203) Fourteen The usual suspects? Free schools in England and the influence of corporate elites
Corporate Elites and the Reform of Public Education

Rob Higham

Policy Press

Education policy in England has featured a plethora of attempts to increase institutional diversity among state schools. As part of the promotion of choice and competition in quasi-markets, diversity policies have encouraged new agents to enter the state education system as private providers of state schools. Free Schools in England have recently added a new dimension to these processes of privatisation and corporatisation. In this context, this chapter analyses who has entered the state education system as a successful Free School proposer, what policy processes have supported their entry and what patterns of influence and advantage emerge as a result. Drawing on a demographic analysis of Free School proposers and semi-structured interviews with 60 proposer groups, the analysis demonstrates how three differently positioned elite groupings have become particularly important actors. These are identified as a corporate elite within the private sector, a socio-economic class elite within civil society and a state school elite within the public sector. Examining the features of these three groupings, the chapter explores the processes and consequences of the entry and expansion of elite influence in state education.

Keywords:   free schools, quasi markets, privatisation, corporatisation, elites, diversity, governance

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