The big Squeeze: Quality and the Constriction of Education

Donald Gillies

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper explores the extent to which Quality management discourse has become embedded in state education policy and the implications of such a development. It explicitly probes the effect of this in terms of how it has served to reshape current conceptualizations of state education and reformulate its scope and aims. The paper aims to identify the nature of this reformulation and the ways in which it marks a shift from previous and traditional conceptions of education. As Quality management is a dominant global approach, this phenomenon is identifiable across Europe and beyond. The paper seeks to answer two key questions: what is the nature and extent of Quality influence within current education policy discourse, and in what ways does such influence affect the way in which education is understood and promoted within that discourse? The paper is principally a conceptual one, supported by a core exercise in discourse analysis. It initially develops a conceptual outline of the principles of Quality management as a means of informing the subsequent textual analysis at the heart of the paper. These identified principles of the Quality approach are used in the interrogation of selected texts (see below) as criteria against which to measure the form and extent of its influence. The paper concludes by offering a conceptual consideration of the nature of schooling and education and then examines the evidence drawn earlier from the textual analysis in the light of such considerations. The paper intends to expose any gulf between the conception of state education as manifested in policy discourse framed by Quality ideology and that of other traditions, such as liberal humanism, and to identify the consequences and effects of this divergence.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventEuropean Educational Research Association Conference 2009 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 28 Sep 200930 Sep 2009


ConferenceEuropean Educational Research Association Conference 2009


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