The national grid for learning: a case study of new labour education policy-making

Neil Selwyn, John Fitz

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Involving around £1 billion of expenditure over a five-year period, the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) initiative embodies the fast growing influence of both market and technological forces in UK education. The formation of the initiative can, therefore, be seen as a pivotal signpost for the direction of New Labour education policy-making, particularly with regard to the increased roles of the private sector and quasi-governmental actors in the development and eventual implementation of educational policy. Based on data gathered from a series of in-depth interviews with ‘key actors’ in the formation and initial implementation of the NGfL, this paper details the formation of the initiative and explores the mechanisms and structures of power and decision-making employed during its formation. Adopting the analytical frameworks of ‘policy community’ and ‘policy network’, the emergence and ‘roll-out’ of the National Grid for Learning is discussed in three distinct phases: the origins of the initiative; its initial policy formation; and, finally, its ongoing implementation and first stages of becoming a policy-in-practice. The paper concludes by discussing the NGfL as an example of current UK education policy-making and examines the national and global precedents underlying the nature of its formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-147
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2001
Externally publishedYes

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