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Forging a ‘neoliberal pedagogy’ : the ‘enterprising education’ agenda in schools

Mccafferty, Patricia (2010) Forging a ‘neoliberal pedagogy’ : the ‘enterprising education’ agenda in schools. Critical Social Policy, 30 (4). pp. 541-563. ISSN 0261-0183

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Abstract

New Labour came to power with a stated commitment to 'education, education, education' and confirmed quickly that this commitment included a greater role for business in the modernization of state schools. One important, yet under-researched, element of direct business involvement is in school pupils' personal and academic development evident in the increasingly pervasive embedding of rhetoric and practices of 'enterprising education'. This paper argues that this is an aspect of a 'neoliberal pedagogy'. It explores the uncritical promotion of values of enterprise and entrepreneurship through approaches that lead to greater 'frontline' business involvement in schools, helping to normalize free market values and 'neoliberal commonplaces'. These promote a particular perspective on the relationships between education, the labour market, the economy and social justice characteristic of New Labour/Third Way approaches not incompatible with that of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, nor the current rhetoric and policies of the SNP administration in Scotland. Thus, despite elements of residual national distinctiveness, 'enterprising education' and the promotion of business values 'on the ground' is a problematic, yet increasingly core function of state education in developing the ideological apparatus of neoliberalism across the UK.