Rescaling education policy: Central-local relations and the politics of scale in England and Sweden

Ingela K. Naumann (Lead Author), Colin Crouch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Governments worldwide have sought to introduce greater choice and competition as mechanisms to improve the quality of education provision and outcomes. There is, however, considerable cross-national variation in education policy, particularly regarding the role of local government. To explain such differences, this article focuses on recent reforms in compulsory education in England and Sweden. It shows that although governments in both countries have advocated choice, competition and participation, education reform has led to centralisation of school governance in England, but decentralisation in Sweden. Drawing on the concept of ‘scalecraft’ as a specific form of ‘statecraft’, it argues that these differences in the rescaling of education policy reflect different conceptions of central-local relations and the role of local government. More broadly, the article shows how national governments strategically use scalar reorganisation (scalecraft) to support broader political goals (statecraft), contributing to a better understanding of the spatial dimensions of public policy reform.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-601
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy and Politics
Issue number4
Early online date3 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • central-local relations
  • education governance
  • education policy
  • local government
  • marketisation
  • participation
  • scalecraft
  • statecraft


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