Critical Education Policy (CEP)

Critical Education Policy (CEP) is an established research community in MIE with a commitment to undertaking policy scholarship in regard to macro policy trends that are global and trans-national, meso trends that are national and regional, and micro trends that are local and organisational.

Exercise books.

We are particularly interested in confronting and addressing the grand challenges in which public-services education is located, where we are specifically concerned to examine, explain and impact on change strategies regarding social, political and economic injustices.

The underpinning values for this work are located in public education and social justice in compulsory (schools) and post-compulsory (further and higher education/widening participation) education.

The Manchester approach to CEP is located in the interplay of data, context and theorising, where we take a critical approach.

Taking a critical approach means that at Manchester we are concerned with the discourses and power relationships in which students, professionals and communities are located, and the way in which advantage and disadvantage work to shape and structure agency in policy design through to the student experience.

Such an approach means that we set out not only to examine knowledge production but also to push at the boundaries of new knowledge.

We challenge normalised ideas, discourses and perspectives, where we set out to provide novel ways of interplaying conceptual tools with practice.

In doing so, we both explain what the case is and, through collaborative methods, seek to work with civil society regarding change strategies.

Our contributions to the field of policy scholarship are to recognise how criticality is inclusive of all sectors of education, where students in schools and further/higher education are members, and how we seek to work in partnership to develop new insights and strategies.

We locate our methodologies in the social sciences where we draw on sociology and political studies, and we use historical as well as contemporary analysis.

We set out to make a contribution that is interdisciplinary in regard to advancing methodological, theoretical, and practical strategies for and about knowledge production.

Our research


  • Access to education and social justice
  • Conceptual work on the meaning of the public and private
  • Global dimensions to reforms and change strategies
  • Policy, knowledge production, knowledge flows and knowledge actors
  • The professional workforce: its composition, concepts, practices and identities, and what they reveal about leaders, leading and leadership
  • The structure and reorganisation of the provision of educational services, and access to those services
  • The student experience and the impact of reform and policy strategies

Our people