Power, authority and expertise: policy making about relationships and sex education in English primary schools

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper analyses the experiences of English primary school leaders who perform critical roles in interpreting government policy and navigating the landscape to design relationship and sex education (RSE) for their pupils. It considers schools as sites of political contestation and educators as policy actors, the voices of whom are often absent in the literature about RSE. Drawing on Peter Morriss’ theory of power, the paper considers how primary school decision makers utilise their epistemic abilities to advance their policy preferences and how structures of authority and legitimacy energize and constrain them in their policy-making work. The findings suggest a paradox in power: while the national government has delegated decision-making about RSE to individual schools, it has simultaneously failed to uniformly equip schools to make appropriate policies about RSE and enabled parents to deny schools’ credibility and authority as leaders in RSE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-802
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Volume38
Issue number5
Early online date25 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • relationships
  • sexuality
  • Policy making
  • Policy implementation
  • power
  • primary school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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