Meanings, linkages and enactment: a local study of policy in the context of a Sure Start Children's Centre

Aberton, Rebecca (2019). Meanings, linkages and enactment: a local study of policy in the context of a Sure Start Children's Centre. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Early years’ services in England have seen twenty years of unprecedented and rapid policy change. From a virtually policy free zone prior to 1997 they are now taken-for-granted as a policy solution to address inequalities in educational, health and social outcomes. The aim of this study was to understand the nature and reasons for policy changes; to explore ambiguities and contradictions in policy rationales; and to consider how these were navigated in practice.

Conceptualising policy as complex, multi-layered and non-linear led me to investigate policy prescriptions for Children’s Centres, the discourses used to support them and how these were interpreted and enacted within a particular Children’s Centre context. My analysis highlighted how meanings, values, assumptions and contradictions contained in a policy discourse of ‘early intervention’ were translated between a series of inter-linked policy documents. In the process of translation, contradictions were reconciled to determine a coherent course of action. Some meanings, values and assumptions were foregrounded while others shifted or disappeared. Staff and parents’ perceptions of the purpose of Children’s Centres were not aligned with policy intentions or with previous ways of prioritising resources and meeting needs. This raises questions about the unintended consequences of policy.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education


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