A nuanced critical realist approach to educational policy and practice development: Redefining the nature of practitioners' agency

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Abstract

In an age of nationalisation of international educational (leadership) policy,
or vice versa, the politics and conflicts behind such policies often
take centre stage to the detriment of (research-based) professional
expertise. In response, this article develops a nuanced critical realism to
propose a practice-based development and implementation of educational
(leadership) policy reforms. Based on empirical reports of head
teachers’ subversive practice, the article concludes by highlighting that
professional expertise is a central component, dubbed ‘formless capability’
(potency), that all stakeholders use to turn policy intentions into
policy actions (Actuality). Actuality consists of the three traditional
domains of critical realism – the real, the actual and the empirical –
whose importance is derived from whether it is a means to (incomplete
action) or an end in itself (complete action). It is argued here that
empirical experiences of leading schools are the stage of actuality that
is directly linked to the complete action of students’ learning and, therefore,
stands the most chance of being faithfully and successfully
embedded and implemented. Policy mechanisms, therefore, need to
reflect such research-based knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Early online date8 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2018

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