Considerate, convivial, capacious? Finding a language to capture ethos in ‘creative’ schools

Sara Bragg, Helen Manchester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concepts of school ‘ethos’ or ‘culture’ have been widely debated in education since the 1980s. This is partly as a consequence of marketisation, partly because ethos has been identified as a low-cost route to school improvement. Corporate, authoritarian, and most recently ‘military’ models of ethos have been widely promulgated in the UK. Another significant strand of educational thinking, however, has emphasised ethos for and as learning: how schools might prefigure alternative, more socially just, worlds. This article argues that accounting for such divergent notions of ethos demands greater attention to the intellectual resources mobilized in interpreting educational processes. We discuss schools that used their work with the English creative learning programme, Creative Partnerships, to develop what we describe as ‘considerate, convivial and capacious’ school ethos. We aim thereby to value their achievements, provide tools to contest dominant discourses around ethos, and advocate more critical, reflexive approaches to researching school cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)864-879
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education on 08/09/2016, available online:


  • School ethos
  • school culture
  • post-structuralism
  • creative learning
  • creativity
  • creative partnerships


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