This book is a comprehensive study into and about consultants doing consultancy, and having influence in ways that generate concerns about an emerging ‘consultocracy’, with privileged access to governments and public services. It presents a detailed mapping of consultants and consultancy in education as a site of change and modernisation in public sector service provision. It considers consultancy at a macro-level of globalised policy, at a meso-level of national government policy, and at a micro level with vivid descriptions and analyses of consultants at work.
The rapid rise of ‘edubusinesses’, combined with the restructuring of public services in western style democracies, has generated new types of ‘knowledge actors’ within education policy. Three main developments that have led to this change are: the entry of education policy and service consultants from within major companies into the public education market place; the emergence of ‘celebrity’ entrepreneurial actors and private businesses who make interventions into Universities and schools; and the rapid growth of small businesses based on individuals who have relocated their work from the public to the private sector. Such knowledge actors and the complexities they bring to public education are as yet under described and largely un-theorized. Based on current research and drawing upon a range of theoretical tools, this book fills the gap.
Gunter and Mills provide an invaluable contribution to scholarship on the neoliberal restructuring of public education by mapping and analyzing the under-examined yet central role of corporate education consultants. Their thoughtful and thorough discussion expands our understanding of how consultants promote and trade in the ideologies of corporate culture. Gunter and Mills show how consultants are integral to both knowledge making practices in schools and a radical reform agenda for schools in the UK and around the globe. This is an accessible and important volume for not just policy and politics scholars but anyone concerned about defending public forms of education and associated living at a moment when they are increasingly being positioned for pillage by profiteers.
Kenneth J. Saltman, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, USA