Changing Forms of Accountability in Education? A Case Study of LEAs in Wales

Catherine Farrell, Jennifer Law

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Political mechanisms of accountability were marginalized by Conservative government reforms during the 1980s and 1990s which sought a more market-oriented approach within the public sector in order to enhance ‘consumerism’. In education, parents were given more choice between schools and were provided with more information on school performance. The promotion of market accountability has involved a reduction in the powers of local education authorities (LEAs) which had been central to the operation of political accountability. However, whilst market-based forms of accountability were firmly enhanced in principle by the legislation, to what extent have the forms of accountability operating within LEAs changed in practice? Interviews with Chief Officers and the Chair of the Education Committee are used to identify changing perceptions and practices of accountability in LEAs in Wales. The findings indicate that although local politicians and officials have been forced to operate within the legislative framework of market accountability, they have sought to impede its successful implementation. The policy community in Wales facilitated the LEAs’ capacity to respond in this way. The market-based reforms conflicted with fundamental values held in Wales, which remain those of professional accountability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)293-310
    JournalPublic Administration
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


    • Local Education Authorities
    • LEAs
    • Market accountability
    • Education
    • Wales


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