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Publication Detail
Crisis policy enactment: primary school leaders’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic in England
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Bradbury A, Braun A, Duncan S, Harmey S, Levy R, Moss G
  • Publisher:
    Informa UK Limited
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Journal of Education Policy
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Covid, pandemic, primary schools, school leaders, policy enactment
  • Notes:
    © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This paper explores the enactment of government policy during the Covid pandemic in primary schools in England. Based on interviews with school leaders and teachers across the period 2020–21 (n = 66), drawn from two major studies of primary schools’ priorities during the crisis, we argue that school leaders’ responses can be understood as a distinct form of policy enactment particular to an unprecedented crisis. Policy arrived in schools differently, and was enacted differently. Our findings suggest that enacting policy during the Covid crisis was a process dominated by the need to act at speed, informed by the prioritisation of children’s basic needs and based on a knowledge of the local circumstances. Thus dimensions of context which affect policy enactment were altered during the crisis, with the material circumstances of the school and the values of the headteacher becoming highly significant. The approach we term crisis policy enactment is response to policy which is focused first on coping but is also agentic, demonstrating a commitment to children’s welfare and a belief in the power of schools to make a difference.
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