In this paper we explore one school’s reinvention of itself as ensuring that every student could take full control of his or her learning. Located in a predominantly working-class area, the school has moved to a thematic curriculum, strong reliance on technology, major spatial change towards ‘mini schools’, and student self-management of learning. Drawing on Bourdieusian concepts, we examine through interviews with students and staff how much these changes have contributed to underlying transformational change in the educational habitus of the school’s members. We analyse the discourses drawn on by the various players in terms of their changing roles within redrawn teacher-student relationships and new positionings with respect to student autonomy and self-management of learning. Taking into account the external constraints of national testing, accountability, and school competition, we found examples of students’ recognition and critique of residual power structures in their lives and misrecognition of the nature of these underlying structural forces by staff.
- © 2013 International Institute for Qualitative Research, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign