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Education policy analysis: Global to local

September 14, 2014



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This paper’s intention is to consider enactment of the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework as policy articulated at the micro level in our College’s Learning Area Operational Plan, in conjunction with the whole school’s Strategic Plan, within a broader global reform movement focused on quality teaching. Research has served to refine notions of what was previously termed excellence (Hattie, 2003) or teacher effectiveness (OECD, 2005) as crucial factors generating improved student achievement. Policy in this context is thus defined as

Text and action, words and deeds, what is enacted as well as intended (Ball, 1994, p. 10).

As an attendant concept, neoliberal themes enshrining choice, managerialism and marketisation have become apparent in the emergence of an educational audit culture and hyper-accountability (Barker, 2010). Despite stated best intentions articulated in the Melbourne Declaration, erosion of teacher professionalism and trust are undesirable outcomes of how aspects of this ideology feature in a policy ensemble which currently plays out in schools. Raised awareness to the global knowledge economy and a concomitant emphasis of 21st century skills may serve to reposition education as central to both policy and social change (Vidovich, 2014), yet how this is experienced in schools and classrooms can be seen as complex and, at times, contradictory to the stated intentions of teacher performance and development.

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In relation to this topic, I am a teacher practitioner as well as a school leader; as such, I have a line management responsibility to enact AITSL professional standards as a national policy for and with teachers in a collaborative learning community while undertaking performance and development, coaching and review processes. The local micro setting is a K-12 Independent Public School in Perth, Western Australia. My own performance and development is similarly measured against AITSL 360 degree feedback criteria, along with the College’s Strategic Plan which focuses on “High quality teaching and leadership”. In seeking to analyse this practice, our own enactment of policy at the micro level presents

a rather different, more diffuse view of policy as a process rather than a product, involving negotiation, contestation or struggle between different groups who may lie outside the formal machinery of official policy making (Ozga, 2000, p. 2).

While I am aware of current trends and research into social capital, emotional intelligence, wellbeing, positive psychology and happiness as alternative indices of success, achievement or effectiveness, the prevailing norm of quality teaching in my school context is glocalised, thus understood in relation to global trends emphasising competition and performance in measurable terms, as well as national and international research (Hattie, 2009; OECD, 2009). In an Independent Public School, performance review embodies a shift from centralised bureaucracy towards a devolved autonomy driven by new managerialism within the hierarchy of our College’s corporate leadership structure. Devolution espouses scope for autonomy and local differences in how policy is enacted, however, accountability measures ensure that teachers in schools experience the effects of performativity (Ball, 2003).

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To my mind, tensions exist between notions of quality in education as measured by the OECD on PISA tests or by ACARA in NAPLAN since these are scales of, respectively, international and national achievement based on ideologies of competition. Similarly, the Australian Curriculum serves to standardise achievement and, by association, quality teaching against scales published at the end of Year 12 in this state as league tables. These accountability structures serve to inform a mediatised, marketised and political understanding of quality in teaching practices which has replaced more traditional notions of a moral standard representative of common or public good (Reid, 2012). Education reform – prompting a ‘policy pandemic’ (Vidovich, 2009) – can therefore be seen as a concept underpinning both global standards for quality teaching since the 1980s, as well as a nationally defined concept reified in the Melbourne Declaration:

 Excellent teachers have the capacity to transform the lives of students and to inspire and nurture their development as learners, individuals and citizens (MCEETYA, 2008, p.11).

Focus areas for this paper are therefore broad, complex and abstract. Since the policy ensemble previously mentioned is largely top-down, framed globally and politically in terms of competition and excellence (Barber & Mourshed, 2007) and shrouded in terms of neoliberal practices which advocate lifelong learning as well as clear national definitions of Principal standards, where leaders

 have a key responsibility for developing a culture of effective teaching, for leading, designing and managing the quality of teaching and learning and for students’ achievement in all aspects of their development (AITSL, 2012, p. 9),

I discover myself occupying contested terrain (Ozga, 2000).


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My purpose undertaking performance and development processes while enacting our Learning Area Business Plan is to seek refinement through collaborative practice, and build capacity with others along with self-reflective practices which serve to define leadership as a function of openness, accountability and trust. In framing a postmodernist interpretation of education policy within a global marketised sphere, however, tensions become apparent (Ball, 1998). The localised experience of enactment illuminates policy incoherence amidst change.

Selected references

AITSL. (2011). National professional standards for principals. Retrieved September 11, 2014

AITSL. (2012). Australian teacher performance and development framework. Retrieved June 12, 2014

Ball, S. J. (1994). Education reform: A critical and post-structural approach. Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Ball, S.J. (1998). Big Policies/ Small World: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy. In Comparative Education, 34(2), pp. 119-130. Retrieved August 9. 2014 from

Ball, S.J. (2003). The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. In Journal of Education Policy 18 (2), pp. 215-228.

Barber, M. & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best performing school systems come out on top. London: McKinsey & Company.

Barker, B. (2010). Introduction – the dynamics of school reform. In The pendulum swings: Transforming school reform. Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham Books, pp. 1-18.

Hattie, J. (2003). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? paper presented to Australian Council for Educational Research Annual Conference. Melbourne, 19–21 October.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.

Reid, A. (2012). Federalism, public education and the public good. Whitlam Institute: Perspectives. Retrieved July 5, 2014

OECD (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Retrieved September 12, 2014

OECD (2009). What makes a school successful? Retrieved September 12, 2014

Ozga, J. (2000). Policy research in educational settings: Contested terrain. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Reid, A. (2012). Federalism, public education and the public good. Whitlam Institute: Perspectives. Retrieved July 5, 2014

Vidovich, L. (2009). ‘You don’t fatten the pig by weighing it’: Contradictory tensions in the ‘policy pandemic’ of accountability infecting education. In Simons, M., Olssen, M. & Peters, M.A. (Eds.) Re-reading education policies: A handbook studying the policy agenda of the 21st century. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Vidovich, L. (2014). Education policy trends: Global to local (EDUC 5658) – Topic 9. UWA course materials.

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