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Education policy analysis: Global to local #2

September 20, 2014

Influences – global to local contexts


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AITSL’s Performance and Development Framework policy was endorsed in 2012 and acknowledges international research as a significant influence (OECD, 2011); understanding of quality teaching was inscribed in the stirring Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA, 2008), later corroborated by the Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders (2012b), and clearly influenced by international evaluations of educational quality and equity in the context of  an emergent global knowledge society, and its attendant themes which endorse mobility, embracing technology and overcoming geographical boundaries (Marginson, 2010).

Of specific interest in this paper is how these complex, inter-related themes apply to perceptions of quality teaching  in national education, especially where measurements of Australian students’ performance ranked against standards in PISA tests from 2003-2006 suggested that a crisis was manufactured (McGaw, 2008). The Performance and Development Framework can therefore be seen as a key component relating to others in a policy ensemble incorporating powerful national institutions such as ACARA – NAPLAN and national curriculum policies – in tandem with AITSL.

Although the stated best intention of Performance and Development may privilege

  • Trust over accountability
  • Empowerment over prescription
  • Impact over entitlement
  • Efficacy over compliance (AITSL, 2013, p. 10),

the “creation of hierarchies and mechanisms of competition” changes teachers’ working conditions by placing them under performative pressures (Connell, 2013, p. 99).


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Part of the rationalisation for educational reform at this time is the global thematic focus on doing more with less (Goldspink, 2007). In turning from bureaucracy towards managerialism, principles of restructuring such as deregulation and devolution can be seen informing a neoliberal ideological shift with the dominant goal of achieving market efficiency through competition and choice delivered in a climate of anxiety over

  • quality assurance,
  • performance and
  • standards (Ozga, 2009).

Tensions prevail: Critique of the ‘policy of numbers’ outlines the impact of globalisation on the nation state seeking to define a numerically constructed reality as paradoxical and difficult (Lingard, 2011); mediatisation meanwhile serves to legitimise power in political processes whereby the social imaginary of globalisation is marked by

a new organisational ethos that celebrates flexibility as its foundational value (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 26).

Thus, the widely promoted notions of both globalisation and quality teaching are open to contestation. While neoliberalism on a global scale moves to deregulate educational services within 3 message systems – content, pedagogy and assessment – at the micro-level our attempts as actors seeking to solve local problems by enacting policy within the school and classroom context is increasingly problematic in a “post-crisis, cash-strapped” state implementing

financial austerity programmes while seeking new ways to upskill and flexibilise (Ball, 2012, p. 135).


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In what has been dubbed a “neoliberal cascade in education” schools’ relative resistance to “the excesses of managerialism” since the 1980s is delineated in stark contrast to a 2010 end point signalling the federal government’s agenda to consolidate market reform in K-12 education via publication of national test results on the MySchool website (Connell, 2013, p. 103). Here, policy borrowing is evident in the audit culture’s preoccupation with obtaining compliance through recentralized control, comparable to accountability measures employed in the US and UK.

Similarly, implementation of the Australian Curriculum as a Commonwealth initiative during 2008-2009 is another recent trend reflecting patterns of nationally endorsed curriculum in other OECD countries, such as the Common Core (US) and Key Learning Areas (UK). Trends noted are significantly interventionist (Connell et al, 2010). Furthermore, since 2009 in Western Australia the state has successfully promoted Independent Public Schools (IPS) – similar to charter schools or academies overseas – as a model marketing choice and distinction to consumers while also allowing principals greater autonomy.

Concerns have been raised, however, over tensions existing between equity and quality (Savage, 2014). One West Australian IPS, then, becomes the focus for analytical interpretation of Performance and Development. It is “By taking context seriously” that we see

…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 et al, 2011, p. 585).

Selected references

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

AITSL. (2012b). Australian charter for the professional learning of teachers and school leaders. Retrieved September 10, 2014

AITSL. (2013). Professional learning for school effectiveness in Australia: What does it take? Retrieved September 10, 2014

Ball, S.J. (2012). Education as big business. In Global education inc.: New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 116-136.

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.

Connell, R., Campbell, C., Vickers, M., Welch, A., Foley, D., & Bagnall, N. (Eds.). (2010). Education, change and society. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Connell, R. (2013). The neoliberal cascade and education: An essay on the market agenda and its consequences. Critical Studies in Education 54(2), pp. 99-112.

Goldspink, C. (2007). Rethinking educational reform: A loosely coupled and complex systems perspective. In Educational Management Administration & Leadership 35(1), pp. 27-50.

Lingard, B. (2011). Policy as numbers: ac/counting for educational research. In Australian Educational Research 38(4), pp. 355-382.

McGaw, B. (2008). How good is Australian school education? In Marginson, S. & James, R. Education, science and public policy: Ideas for an education revolution. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, pp. 53-77.

Marginson, S. (2010). Space, mobility and synchrony in the knowledge economy. In Marginson, S., Murphy, P. & Peters, M.A. (Eds). Global creation: Space, mobility and synchrony in the age of the knowledge economy. New York: Peter Laing Publishing, pp. 117-200.

MCEETYA. (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved September 12, 2014

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2011). Building a high quality teaching profession: Lessons from around the world. International summit on the teaching profession. New York: OECD Publishing. Retrieved September 12 from

Ozga, J. (2009). Governing education through data in England: from regulation to self-evaluation. In Journal of educational policy 24(2), pp. 149-162.

Rizvi, F. & Lingard, B. (2010). Perspectives on globalization. In Globalizing education policy. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 22-43.

Savage, G.C. (2014). Independent public schools: a dangerous reform path. In The conversation. Retrieved September 4, 2014

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