23 SES 07 A, Curriculum Policy Reforms and Their Implications (Part 3)
Paper Session continued from 23 SES 06 A
This presentation explores the potential and challenges of interviewing ‘policy elites’ involved in the development and implementation of early childhood curriculum reform.
In many countries around the world, there is increasing attention to the long term outcomes associated with children’s participation in high quality early childhood education. Such participation has been linked to human capital and productivity agendas.
In 2007, the newly-elected Australian Labor government embarked on an ‘education revolution’. Evolving from this context were two curriculum documents: Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) (Department of Education, Employment and Workforce Relations (DEEWR), 2009) and the Australian Curriculum (AC) (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2014). These curriculum documents reflect the first national curriculum approaches for the early childhood and school sectors, respectively, in Australia.
The transition to school (Perry, Dockett, & Petriwsky, 2010) – when children move ‘between’ curricula – represents an opportunity to forge connections and promote the continuity of learning espoused in the overarching education policy document, the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008). However, there is little explicit connection between the documents – in terms of structure, organisation, content and outcomes – even though their development occurred around the same time,.
As part of an Australian project investigating policy, practice, and pedagogies related to transition to school, interviews were conducted with key policy-makers who had contributed to the initiation and development of two new Australian curriculum documents relevant to the early childhood years. The aim of the project was to analyse the policy-to-practice context of the introduction of two new approaches to curriculum for early childhood education in Australia, with a particular focus on the transition to school.
This project utilised Ball’s (2006) policy-trajectory model to explore three discrete, yet inter-linked, contexts: the context of influence (where policy is initiated and policy discourses constructed); context of production (where policy related to implementation is created); and context of practice (where policy is interpreted and reinterpreted by educators as it is implemented in practice). In this project, these three contexts are represented respectively by the national early childhood education reform agenda and the impetus for the Australian Curriculum; state/territory and organisational/systems approaches and guidelines to promote implementation of the curriculum documents; and the local educational practice as educators implement the new curricula.
This paper explores the context of influence, which frames processes of policy development and privileges specific policy discourses. A major part of this exploration involved interviews with key policy-makers - the ‘policy elites’ - with the aim of analysing their perceptions of policy changes and the key drivers for these; reflections on the outcomes of broad policy changes and the location of early childhood and/or school policy within these changes; and the relevance of policy for the transition to school.
In this presentation, we explore not only what the ‘policy elites’ had to say concerning the development of the two curriculum documents but also the methodological challenges that emerged in organising, implementing, checking and analysing their interviews.
Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority. (2014). Australian Curriculum. http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ Ball, S. J. (2006). Education policy and social class. London: Routledge. Department of Education, Employment and Workforce Relations (DEEWR). (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/belonging_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia.pdf Harvey, W. (2011). Strategies for conducting elite interviews. Qualitative Research, 11(4), 431-441 Heckman, J. (2011). The economics of inequality: The value of early childhood education. American Educator, 35(1), 31-35. Logan, H., Sumsion, J., & Press, F. 92014). Uncovering hidden dimensions of Australian early childhood policy history: Insights from interviews with policy ‘elites’, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. doi:10.1098/1350293X.2104.969086 Ministerial Council on Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Melbourne: Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/national_declaration_on_the_educational_goals_for_young_australians.pdf Perry, B., Dockett, S., & Petriwskyj, A. (Eds.) (2014). Transitions to school: International research, policy and practice. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
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