Mediation, translation and local ecologies: understanding the impact of policy levers on FE colleges
AbstractThis article reports the views of managers and tutors on the role of policy ?levers? on teaching, learning, and inclusion in colleges of Further Education (FE) in our research project, ?The impact of policy on learning and inclusion in the Learning and Skills Sector (LSS)?.i Using data from five research visits conducted over two years in eight FE learning sites, we explore the processes by which colleges ?mediate? and ?translate? national policy levers and how this affects their ability to respond to local need. The paper tentatively develops three related concepts/metaphors to explain the complexity of the policy/college interface ? ?the process of mediation?, ?acts of translation? and ?local ecologies?. We found that policy levers interacted with a complex set of national, local and institutional factors as colleges responded to pressures from the external environment and turned these into internal plans, systems and practices. We conclude by suggesting that national policy-makers, who design national policy levers, may not be fully aware of these complexities and we make the case for the benefits of greater local control over policy levers, where these interactions are better understood.