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The expansion of the International Baccalaureate (IB) is part of a global trend of internationalization of education (IE). Its adoption, however, takes diverse forms in different national and local contexts. Based on a Cultural Political Economy approach that analyses the enactment and recontextualization of educational policies, the aim of this paper is to explore the recent expansion of the IB in Madrid. Drawing on data collected through in-depth interviews with key actors, documents analysis (legal, technical, political and media) and secondary quantitative data, the findings of this paper highlight the key factors that explain why Madrid has led the growth of the IB Diploma in Spain in the last decade, an expansion that, however, has gone relatively unnoticed. The expansion and penetration of private IE initiatives, such as the IB Diploma, are related to a set of social and educational features that characterize the context of Madrid. In this regard, the IB Diploma seems to expand more intensely in decentralized educational systems where neoliberal and neoconservative policies promote autonomy, competition, internationalization and “excellence”, as is the case in Madrid.
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