Personalisation and de-schooling: uncommon trajectories in contemporary education policy

Jessica Pykett

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‘Personalised learning’ has become a popular term within education policy and practice in England, and is part of wider moves towards the ‘personalisation’ of public services and the promotion of personal responsibility within social policy discourse – including education, welfare, health and adult care. In analysing personalisation in education policy as a discursive formation, this paper visits some of the tensions, ambiguities and apparently ‘uncommon’ trajectories in contemporary education policy, including its association with the ‘de-schooling’ movement. It is argued that personalisation cannot be understood simply as the most recent incarnation of the neoliberalisation of education policy, nor as a politically neutral set of learning practices. In conclusion, unpacking personalisation as a generative discourse enables us to understand the continuities and contradictions in New Labour social policy without relying on the sometimes heroic, revelatory and emancipatory intentions of critical analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-397
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • discourse
  • learning
  • moralization
  • neo-liberalism
  • person-centred policy


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