Orbis scholae is an academic journal published by Charles University, Prague. It features articles on school education in the wider socio-cultural context. It aims to contribute to our understanding and the development of school education, and to the reflection of teaching practice and educational policy.

ORBIS SCHOLAE, Vol 15 No 1 (2021), 37–55

Střední článek ve vzdělávání: vymezení pojmu, přístupy a implikace pro vzdělávací politiku

[Middle Layer in Educational Governance: Concept, Approaches, and Implications for Educational Policy]

Arnošt Veselý

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14712/23363177.2021.12
announced: 03. 11. 2021


The concept of “middle layer” (ML) is one of the most frequent terms in current education policy. Yet, the literature on the topic is fragmented and the concept itself is defined in several different ways which hinders effective discussion. The main goals of the article are as follows: 1) to imbed current discussion in the scholar literature and provide basic overview of scholar literature; 2) clarify the terminology and delimit various meanings of the “middle layer” concept. The article is structured as follows. First, the methodology of literature review is described. Then the basic meaning of ML in various educational systems is explained. In the next part of the paper, the literature review on ML is provided. In so doing, two strands of literature are distinguished. While the research-oriented strand focuses on analysis of what ML does (and does not), the practical stream relates to what ML should (or should not) do. Based on previous analysis, the paper argues that four meanings of middle layer can be delimited. These meanings are shortly labelled as follows: (a) a loose network of local actors; (b) a coordinated and interacting system of actors; (c) an organized set of several core local organizations; (d) a regional public administration institution. These four definitions are defined and explained. The article concludes with several implications for educational policy in the Czech Republic.

keywords: middle layer, middle tier, school district, school office, education governance

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