Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Done, E.J., Knowler, H.
Painful invisibilities: Roll management or ‘off-rolling’ and professional identity (2020) British Educational Research Journal, 46 (3), pp. 516-531.

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3591

‘Off-rolling’ is widely defined as the illegal removal of students from a school roll, unlike permanent exclusion, which involves sanctioned formal procedures. It is a practice that brings very different logics, political agendas, governmental imperatives and the associated matter of school leader professional identity into sharp relief. Deviant professional identities have already been discursively constituted, despite the current lack of research into the motivation of senior school leaders who engage in ‘off-rolling’. This article draws on Foucault to explore tensions between a political standards and an inclusion agenda, and to consider how the professional identities of senior school leaders are shaped such that ‘off-rolling’ becomes possible. It is suggested that chronic underfunding of the inclusion agenda has combined with what England’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) now describes as an over-emphasis on academic performance to create unsustainable pressures on many senior school leaders. The descriptor ‘contextual roll management’ may therefore be more appropriate. The moral outrage which accompanies public and political discourse around ‘off-rolling’ is theorised with reference to Apple, Ball and Popkewitz. Such moral indignation distracts attention from the wider socio-political and economic context within which schools are now required to deliver academic progress and inclusion. We conclude the article by outlining key empirical questions that have yet to be addressed. © 2019 British Educational Research Association

Author Keywords
educational policy; inclusion; professional identity; roll management; ‘off-rolling’

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