Symposium: Impacts of neoliberal policy on the lived experiences of Primary school communities

Wednesday June 28th 2017

Convenors: Dr Mark Pulsford and Professor Richard Hall.

Neoliberal policy in Primary schooling symposium_abstract pack for attendees.


A recent open-invitation to apply for a PhD Scholarship exploring the impact of neoliberal policy on the lived experience of school communities in UK Primary education generated considerable interest, suggesting there is latent theoretical and practice-based concern in this area amongst DMU staff, students and their networks.

In light of this, we propose to develop a special interest group focused on the ways that neoliberal policy agendas infect and inflect the daily experiences of members of Primary school communities, be that pupils, teachers, middle and senior leaders, Teaching Assistants, peripatetic teachers, parents, Governors, donors, Faith groups, Local Authorities, Academy Trusts, ITT providers, and so on. This special interest group aims to organise reading groups, symposia, conferences and become a hub for research work in this area, including doctoral study.

To that end, we wish to convene a symposium in June 2017 that launches, forms and begins to shape the themes explored by this group. You are invited to contribute to this symposium, whether that be an academic paper/talk, panel discussion topic, poster or other form of representation. This call is exclusively open to DMU staff and students.

A further aim of the symposium is to generate publishable outputs, and the convenors intend to develop a Special Issue around this subject for a peer-reviewed academic journal with the hope that many of the symposium contributions and contributors be included in this.

Areas of interest

  • We are seeking contributions for this symposium that ground neoliberal policies and logics in the everyday routines and practices within Primary school communities. How is current education policy, framed by a neoliberal policy agenda, concretised in the mundane happenings in classrooms, playgrounds, staffrooms and offices? What can we offer to the emerging corpus of research on the ‘quotidian neoliberalisations’ (Ball and Olmedo, 2013, p.85) of educational settings and engagements? What are the pedagogical issues, implications and im/possibilities emerging in this space?
  • A consideration of how – or to what extent – disadvantage and inequality becomes normalised and accepted would be welcome, including analyses of the mechanisms and blind-spots via which this functions. Therefore explicitly addressing policies and practices of inclusion, diversity, equality and community involvement would be desirable.
  • In order to push this area of scholarship forward, the symposium would especially like to engage with a range of theoretical lenses, tools and frameworks that can be employed to make sense of the everyday experiences within Primary school communities in the contemporary period. We see these as potential resources for mapping – maybe even prompting – resistances and re-workings that challenge the neoliberal paradigm. Such resistances and re-workings might emerge through consideration of:
    • spatial theory;
    • new materialist approaches;
    • body, affect and emotion;
    • queer studies;
    • critical disability studies;
    • critical race theory;
    • critical pedagogy;
    • assemblage theory, and so on.
  • Whilst we intend to develop a special focus on the Primary sector, this does not preclude contributions from researchers whose empirical examples are from informal education settings or other phases of education (e.g. Secondary, FE, HE), but which have a theoretical or practical application to Primary school communities and its members’ experiences.

Next steps

If you have any questions or want to notify us of your interest in being involved in the special interest group, please contact both/either Richard ( or Mark (