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National conversations in the UK: using a language-based approach to interpret three key education policy documents (2001-2007) from England, Scotland and Wales

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This paper examines three key education policy documents from Scotland, England and Wales in the eight years after devolution. A close textual analysis of the language of each document is undertaken, which is supported by the authors' insider knowledge of these countries. Findings are presented from analysis of a group of selected words, as well as analysis of the visual images used in the three documents. Points of similarity and difference within the shared discourse of policy are identified and these are discussed under the headings of improvement, vision, gaps and disjunctures. Perhaps understandably, each country seems very concerned with its own education policy agenda. However, the extent of this is clearly highlighted by our analysis, which largely reveals national monologues, with little reference to each other's policies across Scotland, England and Wales. It is suggested that more 'national conversation(s)' between these countries might take place.

Keywords: devolution; education; language; policy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Wales Institute Cardiff, UK 2: The University of Edinburgh, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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