Exclusionary tactics in English secondary education: an analysis of fair access protocols

Jodie Pennacchia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Downloads (Pure)


Although all young people in England are entitled to a full-time, state-funded education suitable to their needs, every year some are without a school place and must be found one through local fair access protocols. This paper uses the enactment of fair access protocols in one local authority to examine the impacts of policy shifts to increase the power of self-governing schools and reduce the role of local authorities in ensuring local educational inclusion. Drawing on observations of two fair access panel meetings and a school’s preparations for these meetings, alongside Foucault’s theorisation of relationships between local practices and wider policy conditions, I argue that particular tactics are produced through fair access practices, which prioritise procedural fairness to schools and serve to categorise perceived risky young people. This interpretation of fairness arises out of a policy landscape of tensions, which requires schools to balance individual performance priorities alongside collective duties for inclusive and equitable education, and turns what should be an inclusive policy into another facet of the increasingly nuanced exclusionary architecture of English education. The findings are internationally relevant given global support for self-governing schools which is creating new issues for the educational inclusion of marginalised populations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Early online date13 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jun 2023


  • Fair access protocols
  • inclusion, exclusion
  • self-governing schools
  • Foucault


Dive into the research topics of 'Exclusionary tactics in English secondary education: an analysis of fair access protocols'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this