Hay, Alexandra Laura (2021) The formation of a cross-town Multi-Academy Trust: A case of policy enactment in the local organisation of education. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This research investigates two high schools and one middle school in the grip of a seismic policy change as they set aside generations of rivalry to work together as a newly formed Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). It adopts an insider case study approach; I taught at one of the schools during the research process and experienced the policy changes with those who participated in the study. The case study uncovers the different sensemaking processes employed by senior leaders and classroom teachers regarding the rationale for the MAT and examines evidence of the enactment of the MAT’s strategic intent to work together. Actor- Network Theory is utilised as a sensemaking tool and revealed the sociomaterial factors shaping the enactment of collaboration. The research consisted of seven interviews with ‘elite’ senior leaders, two sets of teacher focus groups at each of the high schools and analysis of key national and school specific policy documents. The year spent conducting the research coincided with academy conversion and captured the experiences of becoming a MAT and how this altered established work practices. The findings revealed the MAT was a network rife with ambivalent belongings at all levels and material ‘actants’ stalling relations. The shape and extent of collaboration between the schools was mediated by contextual factors and their historical relationships. In this case study the same phase relations between the two high schools was more problematic to establish and maintain than the relations between one of the high schools and its feeder middle school. This can be attributed to the confusing policy priorities of the national MAT programme that continues the Neoliberal promotion of market values, whilst also pushing for school collaboration. I found that the policy decision to convert to an academy had paradoxical qualities; it secured the shape and direction of the three-tier educational provision in the town (for now), but resulted in policy changes that increased workload, accountability, stress and uncertainty. The thesis concludes with suggestions for future policy direction regarding the forming of local multi-phase MATs, whilst also highlighting the difficulties faced when enacting such policy into practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Multi-Academy Trust, school collaboration, insider case study, sensemaking, policy enactment, Actor-Network Theory
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Political and Global Studies
Contributors: Cropper, Steve (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2021 15:27
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2021 15:28
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/9289

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