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Education policy trends

July 20, 2014

While my opening gambit may appear digressive, groping around the periphery to make sense of this broad and complex subject yielded interestingness:

Peter Taubman does not appear on the reading list for next semester’s study of Education Policy Trends: Global to Local at UWA, yet ideas explored in this video offer a frame of reference to consider:

  • audit culture
  • devolution
  • accountability
  • standards
  • commodification of education
  • reforms.

Here, policy can be seen as a complex interplay of processes connecting both central authorities – governing departments, vested interest groups, market forces – and practices in schools identified as classroom-based learning experiences.

What does it mean, really? The classroom is a fraught political space.

I appreciate that might not be revelatory, but the qualms were real. Initial trepidation I experienced while downloading PDF files and skimming through prevailing wisdom forced me to confront a global scale of operations that could leave us – as individuals – winded, if not bruised. Critics carved soundbytes with terms like disdain, losers and reductionist.

Persisting with exploration revealed potential benefits to emerge from applied understanding of these trends to enable a re-framing of the discourse about how best to lead/ manage change within our own contexts.

For example, the literature urges us to

…study the consequences of national testing, especially the unintended consequences that lead to the de-skilling of teachers, a focusing on results rather than learning, and teaching to the test. We can learn from these experiences, however, caution is needed in borrowing practices and policies developed in other contexts and for differing purposes (Klenowski, 2009, p. 1-2).

So far, then, both recommended and tangential reading serves as an advance warning system and demystification guide.


Creative Commons Source

Human elements re-emerged for me. Want to know more about the public good?

Alan Reid argues there are

three purposes of education – individual, economic and democratic – [which] will usually be present in education policy and practice, but it is the emphasis that is placed on each and the interrelationships between them that will determine the extent to which they are likely to achieve public purposes (Reid, 2012, p.7).

Here I am occupying familiar territory once more.

Complex bearings given slight adjustments as information processing gets underway; internal calibration scale shifts. Feels like this:

file4571266812995 (1)


Creative Commons Source

What I come to appreciate about Study (in the formal, capital-S sense, as opposed to an informal process of learning with others which teachers tend to undertake as an unconsciously skilled, or naturalised, process) is that you have to hold tight while bearing up to the likely disorientation. Eventually, hope and possibilities emerge in any investment, since commentators will consider how

By taking context seriously we argue that policies are intimately shaped and influenced by school-specific factors, even though in much central policy making and research, these sorts of constraints, pressures and enablers of policy enactments tend to be neglected (Braun, Ball, Maguire & Hoskins, 2011, p. 585).

Selected reference

Braun, A., Ball, S.J., Maguire, M. & Hoskins, K. (2011). Taking context seriously: Towards explaining policy enactments in the secondary school. In Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 32(4), pp. 585-596.

Klenowski, V. (2009). Raising the stakes: The challenges for teacher assessment. Canberra: Paper presented at the AARE conference. Retrieved July 20, 2014 from

Reid, A. (2012). Perspectives: Federalism, public education and the public goodUniversity of Western Sydney: Whitlam Institute. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from

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