Built policy: school-building and architecture as policy instrument

Adam Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


School architecture is often taken for granted both in use (where it is naturalized) and in writing on education policy (tending to feature simply as policy setting.) Built policy instead points up the active and ongoing role of the material environment in shaping education. From financing and procurement to the design of individual classrooms, the paper works across architecture, sociology and policy studies to clarify the relationship between different dimensions of physical and social space and so provide a useful theoretical ground for future work. What is special about school-building and architecture that enables them to do policy? How are they used to do it? By whom? From city planners to students, a range of actors use different space-organizing resources to attempt the instantiation of (and challenges to) policy in built form. These processes are explored first theoretically, then empirically through a new Academy school in England. The paper deepens understanding of what policy is, emphasizing its intimate if taken for granted spatial characteristics, its ongoing-ness in built form and its travel by means of circulating images of buildings and spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-484
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020


  • Architecture
  • built policy
  • policy
  • school-building
  • schools

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