In 2002 the National College for School Leadership in England launched what they claimed to be the biggest school networking initiative of its kind. The networks which were members of this programme involved schools working together to achieve shared priorities and can be viewed as examples of organisational development networks. These networks, which promoted ideals of collaborative development and bottom up change, were introduced in a neoliberal market context of education in which schools were encouraged to compete against each other. Herein I chart the development of this neoliberal education market and explore ways in which three case study networks, all members of the Networked Learning Communities programme, related to that context. I highlight some problems with and benefits of networking, including the aspirations for networks to counteract perceived de-professionalising effects of prescriptive education policy. I argue that, whilst being able to achieve some of their aims, the focus of these networks means that their potential to achieve some of their espoused effects is limited. An alternative is proposed, which is to reconsider educational networks from the perspective of networks that arise from social movements. An outcome of this reconsideration is a suggestion that the commitments to collaboration, associated with organisational development networks, and to mobilisation from shared commitments associated with social movements can broaden the potential scope of changes resulting from networks.
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Townsend, A. Rethinking Networks in Education: Case Studies of Organisational Development Networks in Neoliberal Contexts. Interchange 43, 343–362 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10780-013-9183-1