23 SES 09 C, Policy Actors from European Edges
This paper examines the perceptions of important policy actors in Scotland about policy implementation which is part of the policy process and ‘is inextricably related to, and interdependent with the other parts’ (Nakamura and Smallwood 1980, p.21). More specifically the implementation of the Scottish policy guidelines Better relationships, better learning, better behaviour (Scottish Government, 2013) is explored through the perspectives of policymakers who contributed to the formulation of the policy, as for the improvement of the quality of policy implementation a focus on the conditions under which a policy is implemented is needed (Honig, 2006). The policy was published in March of 2013 in response to the Behaviour in Scottish schools research 2012 (Black et al, 2012) and it was formulated by the Scottish Government and the ‘Scottish Advisory Group on Relationship and Behaviour in Schools’ (SAGRABIS) which is a group of representatives from key bodies and organisations in Scottish education. The policy includes priority actions to support local authorities, practitioners, and partners to promote positive relationships and behaviour within their learning communities. The perspectives of education officers who work for the education services of the councils In Scotland will also be included and discussed. Acknowledging the ‘messy realities’ (Ball, 1990, p. 9) of policy and policy processes and responding to Fenwick and Edwards’ (2011, p. 709) call for ‘new ways to engage with policy processes’ this paper is framed by complexity theory and will discuss the following questions: How is policy process understood by important policy actors? How policy actors perceive themselves in the policy process? Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with policy makers who contributed to the formulation of the policy, and semi-structured interviews with education officers of local authorities in Scotland that have received and implement the policy guidelines. The interviews were audio-recorded and analysed with the software programme NVivo. The analysis provided interesting information about the role of the participants, and their perceptions about their role. The data also indicate that the interviewed policymakers and education officers had different perceptions of the policy process and different understandings that impact on the policy's implementation. Findings invite reflection on the policy process and the understandings of those involved in it.
Ball, S.J. (1990) Politics and Policy Making in Education: Explorations in Policy Sociology. London: Routledge.
Black, C., Chamberlain, V., Murray, L., Sewel, K. and Skelton, J. (2012) Behaviour in Scottish Schools 2012 Final Report. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
Fenwick, T., and Edwards, R. (2011) 'Considering materiality in educational policy: Messy objects and multiple reals', Educational Theory, 61(6),pp. 709-726.
Honig, M.I. (2006). New Directions in Education Policy Implementation: Confronting complexity. New York: State University of New York Press.
Nakamura, R. T., and Smallwood, F. (1980) The politics of policy implementation. New York: St. Martin’s.
Scottish Government (2013) Better relationships, better learning, better behaviour. Available at:
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