Centrifugal schooling: third sector policy networks and the reassembling of curriculum policy in England

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This article examines changes in curriculum policy in secondary education in England. It is concerned with recent curriculum policy and reform, and the proliferation of non-government actors in curriculum policy creation. It examines the emergence of a loose alliance of third sector organisations and their involvement in a series of alternative ‘curriculum experiments’. The third sector curriculum policy network revolves around a policy vision of decentralisation constituted by public–private partnership, media-friendliness, social enterprise and an ‘open source’ or network-based organisational logic. It assembles a policy ideal of ‘centrifugal schooling’ which links together ideas about ‘networked governance’ with ‘flexible’ learning and ‘entrepreneurial’ curricula. The article traces and discusses some of the inter-organisational relations, materials and discourses of the third sector network of alternative curriculum policy developments, and provides a case study of a prototypical third sector curriculum programme. It examines the organisational relations and practices by which the project was produced and the conditions leading to its failure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-794
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number6
Early online date30 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • curriculum
  • decentralisation
  • governance
  • networks
  • third sector


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