This PhD studentship provides an exceptional opportunity to examine the impact of the school inspection regime (Ofsted) on school leaders and teachers, and the ways that policy is enacted within schools under such a regime. This project builds on existing literature concerning school leadership in the current climate, the impact of school inspection, and the recently growing body of literature relating to policy enactment in schools. The aims of your proposed study should align with this broad research focus.
If you have recent experience of school leadership (leaders at all levels) and/or teaching experience, and have been concerned about the impact of school inspection on the daily practice of schools, then this PhD studentship offers academic space to consider this thoroughly. Applications will also be welcome from those with a specific research interest within this field.
What is the impact of school inspection on schools, leaders, teachers and pupils/students? How do schools enact policy in relation to school inspection? There are some supporters for Ofsted, who argue that the school inspection regime has played an important role in making schools more fit for purpose. Others, such as Ball (2003), Perryman (2006, 2009, 2017a, 2017b), Clapham (2014), Page (2016) and Courtney (2016), view inspection, including short notice inspections and data monitoring, as having created a climate within schools that force specific types of response – these responses may appear misaligned with the values and ethos of the school.
One of the most important concepts for school leaders and policy-makers in general is to understand the range of reinterpretations and refractions (Goodson and Rudd, 2016) which come in response to school inspection regime. A consideration of the impact of this will be relevant to this studentship.
Proposals will be particularly welcome from applicants who would like to include a focus on an aspect of social justice within the defined research area. A project could be proposed, for example, that considers the extent to which the impact of the school inspection regime on school leadership and policy enactment disadvantages specific groups of pupils/students or contributes to the de-professionalisation of teachers.
Proposals may include qualitative or quantitative research designs, as long as they are robust and fit for purpose. The settings for this research might include school (primary or secondary) or further education. This studentship would build upon academic research in this area within the School of Education at the University of Brighton.