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School Leaders' View on Market Forces and Decentralisation: Case Studies in a Swedish municipality and an English County
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this study is to describe and analyse some of the consequences of market forces and decentralisation in the educational systems of Sweden and England.

Since the 1980s, many countries have restructured their educational systems and introduced decentralisation and market forces. The reasons have sometimes been the same and sometimes they have differed, but demands for better school performance and the need for economic cuttings in the public sector, including schooling, are two of the most common reasons. This study will describe the development towards market forces and decentralisation in some countries in the western world in general, and, in particular Sweden and England.

The thesis makes a general overview of research on these issues in different countries and focuses on certain key concepts. Interviews and document analyses are the principal methods used, and case studies have been conducted in seven secondary schools in one Swedish municipality, and in ten schools in an English county. Interviews were made with 20 school leaders in the Swedish municipality and 20 in the English community in order to study their opinions on market solutions like competition and choice of school, as well as decentralisation and local management of schools.

The findings indicate that the educational systems of Sweden and England differ in many aspects, even if both can be described as decentralised. While the Swedish system gives the schools a high degree of autonomy, whereby the school leaders are responsible for almost everything in the daily running of the school, the English system includes more aspects of centralism, and provides less local decision making. The findings also indicate that the school leaders in Swedish municipalities are more satisfied with both decentralisation and market forces in schooling than their English colleagues. Several plausible interpretations could be made of the interview answers from the school leaders, but it seems that the higher degree of decentralisation in the Swedish educational system is perhaps the most important factor in this case.

Finally, the findings also indicate that the school leaders see positive aspects of choice and competition in schooling, like increased quality and better efficiency, as well as negative aspects, primarily the risk of segregation due to free school choice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Pedagogiska institutionen , 2007. , 213 p.
Studies in comparative and international education, ISSN 0348-9523 ; 0348-095-023
Keyword [en]
catchment area, choice, competition, educational quality, educational restructuring, decentralisation, market forces, school leaders, segregation, vouchers
National Category
Research subject
International Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7102ISBN: 978-91-7155-510-6OAI: diva2:197636
Public defence
2007-11-09, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 12:30
Available from: 2007-09-27 Created: 2007-09-27Bibliographically approved

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