Stephen Howard Rogers
Crouching target, hidden child.

Author: Stephen Howard Rogers, University of Manchester. 

Title: “Crouching target, hidden child”

Drawing on semi-structured interviews and focus group activities with thirty-three young people between the ages of 14 to 17 attending three English schools, I examine their experiences of a ‘personalised’ education system. The policy climate in England has for some time been one of intense and persistent reforms. The Labour Party took office in 1997 and advanced ‘personalised learning’ as a central reforming concept that made use of individual targets, data and pupil voice in the learning process. I identify that while the opportunities for productive voices are evident, the young peoples’ experience of it is inconsistent. Notably, the use of targets and data has often made them invisible and mute, and this affects how they understand the purposes of schools and their place within a school. Outcome data is a necessary and proper concern of schools. However, I suggest that the conceptualisation of learning, and the relational processes involved, is being damaged through the interpretation of voice as a means of delivering instrumental data sets. Agency within school practices is located within competing values of governance (Newman 2006) that contextualise the conflicting demands on staff. Young people experienced moments of care and trust in relationships with certain teachers that points to the possibility of a more virtuous practice if the policy ‘space’ is available. I argue this point using a conceptualisation of social practice and ethics drawn from Alasdair MacIntyre. The fieldwork took place over the course of half a day in each of three schools that represent different cultural communities, were under scrutiny from National Challenge strategies and are interested in student leadership.

The DARE Collaborative is a research partnership focused on the digital arts in education, led by the UCL Institute of Education and the British Film Institute. It has a membership of university researchers, teachers and educators in cultural organisations with an interest in arts, media, culture and new literacies in the context of education and digital media.
Centro en Investigación Avanzada en Educación