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The policy and policing of language in schools

  • Ian Cushing (a1)


This study investigates cases of language ‘policing’ as educational language policies, and the way that these are represented across different policy levels. Focusing on UK schools and using discursive approaches to language policy as a theoretical framework, I critically examine the motivations and justifications that institutions provide for designing and implementing policies whereby nonstandardised forms are ‘banned’, and how these are reported in metalinguistic discourse. Drawing on a range of data including media discourse, policy documents, teacher interviews and linguistic landscapes, I textually trace how educational language policies (re)produce prescriptive and linguicist ideologies, often using metaphors of crime, and often using language as a proxy for social factors such as academic achievement, employability, and standards. Overall, I argue that micro- and meso-level language policies are a partial product of the linguistic conservatism as found within current macro-level educational policy. (Language policy, language policing, schools, language ideologies)*

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Ian Cushing Department of Education Brunel University LondonUxbridge, UB8 3PH,


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Thank you to Jenny Cheshire and to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. Thank you also to Elisabeth Barakos for her comments much earlier in the process, and to the teachers who took part in the interviews.



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The policy and policing of language in schools

  • Ian Cushing (a1)


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