'It's all about standardisation' - Exploring the digital (re)configuration of school management and administration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Schools have long made use of digital technologies to support the co-ordination of management and administrative processes - not least management information systems , virtual learning environments and other institutional technologies . The last five years have seen the convergence of these technologies into integrated rather than separate systems - thereby allowing institutionally-related data, resources and other services to be accessed and used by school leaders, administrators, teachers, students and parents. Many commentators see the supposedly open nature of these integrated systems as somehow democratising and decentralising the organisation of schools. However, this paper offers a detailed account of how the social relations of schools and schooling shape and bound the use of institutional technologies. Drawing on interview data from twelve early adopting schools in England, the paper discusses how the implementation of integrated institutional technology systems is shaped by a set of organisational, bureaucratic and disciplinary concerns. In particular, the paper illustrates how these technologies strengthen existing top down patterns of social power and control through a series of data-driven processes. The paper therefore considers how the systems are used to reinforce a wider conservative modernisation of schools - intensifying the managerial control of curricula, the standardisation of labour processes and the accountability of educational practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473 - 488
Number of pages16
JournalCambridge Journal of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Cite this