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Interview with Professor Stephen Ball

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Professor Stephen Ball, Co-editor, Journal of Education Policy

This piece is the second in a series of interviews Routledge is conducting with the Editors of some of its key Education journals.

The interview page has been split into sections which can be quickly accessed by selecting any of the links below:


The interviews are aimed at students, educational researchers, academics and visitors to the Education Arena website who are interested in particular journals and would like to find out more.

Each interview provides information about the Editor in question, details about the creation of their journal, its purpose and scope within the wider sphere of educational research along with hints and tips for prospective authors who may be hoping to submit papers to the journal.

Each Editor is a renowned academic in their field and it is an opportunity for them to discuss their journal in an open and accessible format with their readers. It is also an opportunity for them to talk about issues and research interests that are central to both their current studies and the life of the journal itself.

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Professor Stephen Ball answers the questions

This second interview is with Professor Stephen Ball, Co-editor of Journal of Education Policy, and took place at the Institute of Education, London, UK in January 2009.



Q1: Can you give us an introduction to the Journal of Education Policy and explain the aims and scope of the journal?

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Q2: What kinds of papers are you interested in as Co-editor?

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Q3: What makes a good paper and what are the most common mistakes made by writers?

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Q4: Who reads the Journal of Education Policy?

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Q5: What are your aspirations for the future of the journal?

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Q6: What do you think is the most important and controversial subject in contemporary debate and research in education that has been discussed recently within the pages of the Journal of Education Policy?

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Q7: In your book The Education Debate you explain how Tony Blair's declared aim to "make the country at ease with globalisation" engendered a shift in the focus in schooling to economic competitiveness. What do you think are the main impacts of this to date?

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Q8: One of the most conspicuous developments in education policy over the last ten years has been the rise and impact of 'performativity' or performance assessment as a way of improving the accountability of teachers and schooling. You have described performativity as "a culture or a system of terror" that can be enormously stressful and time-consuming. What do you feel are the key benefits and dangers of increased testing and assessment of teachers?

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Q9: You have argued that class inequalities in education are now almost as stark as they were in the Victorian era, with faith schools now primarily for the middle class, state or community schools increasingly for the working class, and private and public schools kept as the preserve of the upper class. How much of a concern is class inequality in education?

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We also provide a transcription of this interview to overcome accessibility problems if you have hearing difficulties (or for those of you who may just prefer to read the interview).

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More about Professor Stephen Ball

Stephen Ball is Karl Mannheim Professor in the Sociology of Education at the University of London, fellow of the British Academy, member of the Academy of Social Sciences and Head of the Sociology Section of the Faculty of Policy and Society in the Department of Educational Foundations and Policy Studies at the Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

Stephen is the Co-editor of Journal of Education Policy along with founding Editor Ivor Goodson. Over the last two decades Stephen has produced a significant corpus of work within the fields of 'policy sociology' and the sociology of education and has had a major influence in the development of both these subjects.

The extent of Stephen's published work is quite literally vast, with innumerable contributions to books and over 100 articles published in peer reviewed journals. A selection of his books includes:
Education plc: Private Sector Participation in Public Sector Education, Routledge, 2007;
Education, Globalisation and New Times (with Ivor Goodson and Meg Maguire) Routledge, 2007;
Childcare, Choice and Class Practices (with C. Vincent) Routledge, 2005;
The Routledge Falmer Reader in Sociology of Education, RoutledgeFalmer, 2004;
Class Strategies and the Education Market: the middle class and social advantage, RoutledgeFalmer, 2003;
Choices, Pathways and Transitions Post-16: New Youth, New Economies in the Global City (with M.M. Maguire and S. Macrae) RoutledgeFalmer, 2000.

Stephen is currently engaged in two research studies funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK's leading agency for research funding and training in economic and social sciences: one on the 'enactment' of policies in secondary schools in the context of constant change; the other on the impact of philanthropy on education policy.

For more information on Journal of Education Policy, including details of the journal's aims and scope, please visit the journal homepage.

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