European Union governance of schools and teachers: Policy design and instrumentation since 2010
This paper analyses the trajectory of European Union (EU) governance of primary and secondary schools and teacher policy over the period 2010-2021 in terms of the mix of instruments, sequencing and critical junctures, and how the specific features of EU governance impact policy design and selection of instruments. In this way, the paper addresses the research lacunae concerning multilevel governance dimensions and the mixing of policy instruments over time (Capano and Howlett 2020).
The paper contextualises EU schools and teacher policy as part of the ‘Knowledge Economy and Lifelong Learning’ political and administrative space which has emerged in Europe since the 1990s and involves novel ways in thinking and enacting policy instrumentation and intersectoral coordination (Dale 2009). Accordingly, the paper adopts the theoretical lens of policy instrumentation (Capano and Howlett 2020; Milana et al. 2020) in order to make sense of the evolving relations between ‘toolkits’ of instruments which have in common that they have implications for EU schools and teacher policy. In this respect, the paper specifically analyses the evolving mix of policy instruments associated with the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2020), the European Semester, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the Structural Reform Support Service.
The research design underpinning the paper involves diachronic analysis based on an empirical material consisting of 30 key policy documents, issued by the European Commission between 2010 and 2021, and 20 semi-structured research interviews with individuals with firsthand experience of the administration of relevant policy instruments. QDA Miner and WordStat were used for complementary content analysis (Neuendorf 2017) and critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 2013), centred on the framing of issues, ideas and policy instruments, interests and institutions that in combination influence policy design.
The paper demonstrates the incremental ‘lock-in’ (Dahler-Larsen 2014) in the design of EU schools and teacher policy since 2010, defined by three interrelated trends: i) schools and teacher policy as forming part of boundary-spanning policy regimes (Jochim and May 2010); ii) the continuous and reflexive circulation of data and knowledge as a common foundation in policy instrumentation; and iii) strengthened coupling of European funding and investment programmes with other policy instruments.
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Dale, R. (2009). “Studying Globalisation and Europeanisation in Education: Lisbon, the Open Method of Coordination and beyond.” In Globalisation and Europeanisation in Education, edited by Roger Dale and Susan Robertson, 121-140. Symposium.
Fairclough, N. (2013). “Critical discourse analysis and critical policy studies.” Critical Policy Studies 7(2), 177-197.
Jochim, A.E. and May, P.J. (2010). “Beyond Subsystems: Policy Regimes and Governance.“ Policy Studies Journal 38(2), 303-327.
Milana, M., Klatt, G., and Vatrella, S. (eds. 2020). Europe’s Lifelong Learning Markets, Governance and Policy: Using an Instruments Approach. Palgrave Macmillan.
Neuendorf, K.A. (2017). The Content Analysis Guidebook (2nd edition). SAGE.