Markets, managerialism and teachers’ work: the invisible hand of high stakes testing in England


  • Howard Stevenson, PhD University of Nottingham
  • Phil Wood, PhD University of Leicester


high-stakes testing, marketization, managerialism, teachers’ work, public good.


High stakes testing has been long established in the English school system.
In this article, we seek to demonstrate how testing has become pivotal to
securing the neo-liberal restructuring of schools, that commenced during
the Thatcher era, and is reaching a critical point at the current time.
Central to this project has been the need to assert increased control over
teachers’ work and this is being achieved through a pincer movement
of marketisation and managerialism. Both of these ‘policy technologies’
require the value of individual teachers’ work to be measured and
quantified, and in this article we seek to demonstrate how high stakes
testing underpins these processes. The article concludes by making the
case for reclaiming teaching as a professional process, within the context
of education, as a public good and conducted in a public space.