Managing this creative tension has emerged as a central theme in our research for our project on policy implementation. In this blog we offer some early thoughts about the lessons for policy implementation that can be found in the case of London Challenge. When it was first mooted in 2002, the London Challenge was little more than an aspiration to address the problem of London’s long tail of underperforming schools. There were several directions central government could have taken to make that aspiration a reality. The ‘Challenge’ could have been issued as a directive from central government to local authorities, or directly to schools themselves: “improve or else.” Variations on this approach were common under the New Labour government, naming ‘failing’ schools and putting them in special measures with direct intervention from the Department for Education and the threat of closure. Alternatively, with the broad ambition set out by the secretary of state, the ‘Challenge’ could have been taken up by those closest to the problem – parents, teachers, headteachers, education officers. Indeed, this kind of collective action is at the heart of the Coalition’s free schools policy and underpins some of the thinking behind the expansion of academies. Lurking […]

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