Since the mid-1980s, a number of East Asian societies have consistently performed well in international tests, and their education systems have emerged as models of ‘best practice’, including Hong Kong, which has been extensively referenced by politicians and their advisers in England. In parallel, local dissatisfaction with the education system in Hong Kong has prompted major education reforms. This mismatch between the perceptions of the Hong Kong education system of the two policy communities is explored using documentary analysis and interviews with policymakers and other key stakeholders. We analyse the ways in which features of Hong Kong’s education system are reconstructed and projected in policymaking in England and argue that the referencing to Hong Kong in England is akin to a form of political theatre, reminiscent of a pantomime, with stereotyped villains, heroes and fairy godmothers, narratives of good conquering evil, and comical set-pieces. We argue that these elements provide the means for both constructing and validating simple causal claims and their associated policy actions. Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
CitationAdamson, B., Forestier, K., Morris, P., & Han, C. (2017). PISA, policymaking and political pantomime: Education policy referencing between England and Hong Kong. Comparative Education, 53(2), 192-208. doi: 10.1080/03050068.2017.1294666
- Education reform
- International tests
- Policy borrowing