Policy Response Toolset
for equity and learning


What is Policy?

Policy is both an attempt to solve problems and an attempt to persuade individuals to subscribe to particular beliefs that delineate action. Policy is a process that brings certain principles or ideas into practice through the selection of goals, the definition of values and the allocation of resources (Ham & Hill, 1993; Olssen et al, 2004). Policy documents 'codify and publicise the values which are to inform future practice' (Ranson, 1995, p. 440), and as such they go to the heart of the relationship between the state and the welfare of its citizens (Hill, 1996). The concept of policy is bound-up with notions of public and social issues, the solutions to these, and the role of the state in providing these solutions.


The process of 'creative social action'

The process of ‘creative social action’ is illustrated in the diagram on the right. At the heart of the policy process is the ‘core message’. This might be, for example, that we need to make our schools more inclusive. Informed engagement with policy recognises the agency of everyone involved in policy implementation (i.e. policy makers, school leaders, classroom teachers, parents etc) and this engagement involves the interrogation of policy and the co-creation of a response to policy informed by shared values. So, how one school interprets and responds to a core message about inclusion might be very different from another school.

The policy process as 'creative social action'

Reflect on an emergent issue and the need for a policy response

Often, policy is produced in response to emergent issues for which current guidelines are inadequate or absent, and in such instances the translation of abstract ideas into practice has an urgency that is recognised by policy makers and educators alike.

An example of an emergent issue in the UK that has prompted a crucial and continuous policy response is discussed in the vignette below.

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© 2014 EPNoSL Project