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Illuminating the Manuscript: A Policy Archaeology of English Primary Music Education

Shirley, David Ian (2017) Illuminating the Manuscript: A Policy Archaeology of English Primary Music Education. EdD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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In 2011, the UK Coalition government introduced a strategy for music education in England - the National Music Plan (NMP). Founded on Darren Henley’s (2011) review of English music education, the NMP outlines arrangements for the funding, organisation, staffing and management of English music education. This thesis is founded on the idea that policy initiatives such as the NMP reflect government thinking about the nature of policy problems. Policy problems are constituted by a particular social view about truth and knowledge. Drawing on Scheurich's (1994) policy archaeology framework (PA), this study sets out to explore the social rules by which NMP policy problems are constituted and how the NMP is perceived amongst music education policy enactors. This PA is conducted through the critical discourse analysis (CDA) of three Coalition government music education policy texts and the thematic analysis of fifteen semi-structured interviews. CDA findings suggest that Coalition government music education policy discourse is infused with both neo-liberal and neo-conservative ideology. The interview data suggests participants perceive four pre-NMP music education policy problems: ‘inequality,’ ‘incoherence,’ and ‘inefficiency’, which reflect neo-liberal policy influences; and ‘musical excellence’, which reflects a neo-conservatism influence. Participant responses suggest that the NMP has enhanced music education provision and workforce training in all regions, but that local history, politics, ideology and vision, and geography are limiting factors. Participant responses also indicate increased confidence for job security; however, this belies the ongoing impoverishment of music teachers’ pay and conditions, reported by many participants. The findings of this study resonate with Spruce's (2013) claim that the NMP has ‘tamed’ English secondary music education. I engage with this claim to show how the NMP has ‘tamed’ primary music education and the music education workforce. The ubiquity of neo-liberal/neo-conservative discourse denies the possibility of a broad, creative general music education, centred on musical exploration and discovery. Furthermore, the failure of the NMP to address existing regional inequalities in terms of provision, training, and teachers’ pay and conditions means that inequalities remain between the quality and breadth of musical opportunities for children in different schools across the English regions. I conclude by offering nine recommendations for policy and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.721865
Depositing User: David Ian Shirley
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2017 10:49
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:43
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17959

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