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School Evaluation Policies and Educating States

Trends in Four European Countries


Hélène Buisson-Fenet and Xavier Pons

Are we witnessing the decline of state involvement in education or is it being reshaped, and if so how? Surprisingly, this question has received little attention from researchers in education studies, sociology and political science.
This book aims to fill this gap by exploring school evaluation policies in four European countries: England, France, Scotland and Switzerland. It shows that the same policy tool – promoted in many European and international arenas concerned with good practice in educational governance – can actually give rise in each system to a variety of policy configurations in which forms of state control can differ. Written from a policy sociology perspective, the book aims to go beyond the decline/permanence dichotomy and proposes a specific conceptual framework within which to consider both contextualised forms of state intervention and their potential similarities and combinations. By doing this, the authors not only aim to counterbalance or supplement dominant views on the Europeanisation and transnationalisation of education policies but also to imagine new possibilities for state policy analysis.
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Chapter 7 Bringing the Professionals Back In?


Chapter 7

Bringing the Professionals Back In?

Beyond (or below) regulatory policies that they embody, evaluation practices that we have chosen to analyse in this book refer to a content type of professional activity. They are firmly rooted in a division of labour between status groups defined as organized sets of practitioners who have achieved a degree of closure around an area of work and are governed through a regulatory body and associations that exercise varying degrees of control over knowledge creation, knowledge transmission and work performance (Gladstone et al., 2000; Freidson, 2001). This chapter inserts our work into the wider question of the relationship between the educating States figures and their professionals. In the first part, it mobilizes the different analytic lines that have attempted to understand and interpret the role of the state in the organization of professional groups. Then we show that the comparison of external assessment practices in schools illuminates the on-going discussions on the process of “deprofessionalization” of public services worked through the development of neo-managerial regulations.

Skip From the State to its Professionals: Differentiated Research Traditions

Since the refondation of sociology in the post-war and the establishment of a discipline of political science independent from the institutional law until the 1990s, the French social science research on the state services as search fields followed two parallel lines. On the one hand, sociologists of work are primarily interested in industrial relations before their work come to give...

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