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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: A curriculum for equity? Changing notions of equity in educational policy and Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence
Author(s): Edgar, Stephen Thomas
Supervisor(s): Priestley, Mark
Keywords: curriculum
curriculum for excellence
educational policy
Issue Date: 11-Mar-2022
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Within the social sciences, the term equity has a helpful and precise meaning - referring to a differentiated response to an individual’s own distinct needs or circumstances. However, since the 2000s ‘equity’ has been recontextualised within national and international education policymaking as a generic term. This recontextualisation has led to ‘equity’ being used uncritically to refer to a range of related, and often contradictory, concepts. The focus on ‘equity’ is also a notable feature of current Scottish education policy. This thesis explores the implications of a wider focus on ‘equity’ for Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) policy. It takes a mixed methods approach: firstly, by using Corpus Linguistics to analyse the use of the term ‘equity’ in CfE policy texts since 2004, and, secondly, by interviewing policymakers with responsibility for authoring those policies. This innovative approach allows a detailed consideration of what interpretations of ‘equity’ have been advanced within CfE policy, and how these have changed over time. My analysis shows that, influenced largely by a change in political leadership, explicit consideration of ‘equity’ within CfE policy has increased since 2014-15. However, recent changes to the technical form of CfE policy, driven by ongoing cultures of performativity, may have narrowed the scope for the kind of adaptive teacher professionalism which is most likely to support the realisation of equity. Based on this analysis, I emphasise the value of the concept of equity in informing both curriculum policy and practice in Scotland. However, I urge caution in the uncritical use of ‘equity’ within education policy. I argue that there is a need for the education policy community in Scotland to develop a more nuanced view of what the term means for the curriculum - as well as the ways in which wider education policy may help or hinder its realisation.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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