Emiliano Grimaldi, Giovanna Barzanò

Open access

NPM Discourse, Testing, and the Selection of Head Teachers. Education Policy Innovation as a Collective Performation

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: educational staff recruitment, head teachers, performativity, socio-technical agencement, governmentality.

In this article we examine a process of policy innovation in the field of education, focusing on the conditions under which a new mechanism for selecting head teachers through testing, inspired by NPM discourse, comes into being as a new "regime of practices". We combine sensibilities derived both from governmentality studies and tools from the ANT-inspired research framework developed by Michel Callon on performativity, focusing on the actualization of the new testing device (and its related formula) that makes more calculable the core of a process formerly based on professional appraisal and peer judgement. The work highlights a set of paradoxical performations of the socio-technical agencements (STAs) through which the new formula on candidate selection is actualized: a) the making of the test as a contestable and vulnerable obligatory passage point; b) the commodification of knowledge about testing and the reinforcing and opening up of intertwining markets; c) the disentangling and fragmenting of aspiring head teachers' professional identities. In this context the dismissal and replacement of some core statements of the bureau-professional discourse seem to emerge through the dispersed process of re-designing both the head teacher's professional identity and the selection/ recruitment procedure. The world of professionalism appears to be the "loser in this affair".

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