Governing through Learning: School Self-Evaluation as a Knowledge-based Regulatory Tool

Sotiria Grek, Jennifer Ozga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses knowledge-based regulation tools (KBRTs) as new forms of regulation through an exploration of school self-evaluation (SSE) in Scot­land. We conceptualise self-evaluation as a hybrid regulatory instrument, combining data-based knowledge with knowledges “performed” by institutions and individuals to order to demonstrate their progress on the “journey to excellen­ce” in learning (HMIe, 2009) that is expected of schools, teachers and learners in Scotland. We see the development of self-evaluation in Scotland and more widely as arising from earlier over-reliance on data and from the proliferation of information that together combine to produce the problem of “evidence” as a governing technology. Data require continuous and demanding work – including interpretive work – if they are to be effective. SSE, we suggest, offers a combination of data-based knowledge with professional expertise and individual responsibility, that enables the governing and shaping of the school as a “learning organisation” and, in the context of Scotland on which this paper pri­marily focuses, reflects the presentation of governing as learning activity, in which pupils, teachers, local authorities and government itself are collectively engaged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-52
JournalRecherches Sociologiques et Anthropologiques
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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