08 SES 14, Policy- and curriculumperspectives in health and sexuality education
Taking a cue from Bernstein (1971; 1990) on the message systems of schooling that frame and function in an increasingly globalised and politicised education policy context (Sellar & Lingard, 2014), this paper asks what are the opportunities within the Welsh, English and Australian national curricula to identify the spaces to not only support children’s learning in health education but also for teaching about health inequalities? This includes discussion of symbolic statements, captured not only in broad areas of learning but also within national curriculum priorities and general capabilities expected of students. National curricula in these three countries have developed at different times and the ways these priorities might have changed in each iteration can be critiqued in relation to specific histories, cultures and educational politics, here abbreviated to edu-politics. The task also includes interrogating the ‘policy as numbers’ pressures that are played out in vernacular ways in each nation, for example, in national ‘high stakes’ literacy and numeracy testing regimes and hyper surveillance of teachers and ‘under-performing’ schools.
The theoretical framework of this paper is developed using Bernstein’s (1971) three message systems of schooling, and social reproduction of pedagogic discourse (1990) focusing on the ways health education curriculum is portrayed in the national curriculum statements in the three countries. We provide select examples of how education systems and schools respond to triggers such as top-down OECD pressure and bottom-up community demand (c.f. O'Toole, 2017 the exponential increase of psychosocial mental health programs).
This paper draws upon policy, curriculum, and media text analyses and case study methodology, including interviews with teachers tasked with updating health education curricula in primary (elementary) schools.
We attempt to illustrate through our argument and these case study examples of how such edu-politics shape the nature of health education provided to students, particularly those in urban, vulnerable and under-served communities, with a view to identifying ongoing implications for respective national-school curriculum policies and the systems in which they are recontextualised.
Ball, S.J. (2004). Class strategies and the Educational Market: The Middle Classes and Social Advantage. British Journal of Educational Studies, 52 (4), 433-436. Beckett, L. (2014). Raising Teachers’ Voice on Achievement in Urban Schools in England: An Introduction. The Urban Review, 46(5), 783–799. Bernstein, B. (1971). Class, Codes and Control: Theoretical Studies Towards a Sociology of Language. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Bernstein, B. (1990). Class, Codes and Control Vol 3: The structuring of pedagogic discourse. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Carr, J., & Beckett, L. (2016). Analysing the present: drawing on the legacy of Vere Foster in public policy debate on futures of schools. Policy Futures in Education, 14(8) 1060–1077. Glasswell, K., Singh, P., McNaughton, S. (2016). Partners in Design: Co-Inquiry for Quality Teaching in Disadvantaged Schools. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp.20-30. Catriona O’Toole, (2017). Towards dynamic and interdisciplinary frameworks for school-based mental health promotion. Health Education, 117 (5),452-468, https://doi.org/10.1108/HE-11-2016-0058 Sellar, S., & Lingard, R. (2014). The OECD and the expansion of PISA: New global modes of governance in education. British Education Research Journal, 40(6), 917-936. Singh, P. (2002). Pedagogising knowledge: Bernstein’s Theory of the Pedagogic Device. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23(4) DOI: 10.1080/0142569022000038422. Whatman, S. L., & Singh, P. (2015). Constructing health and physical education curriculum for Indigenous girls in a remote Australian community. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 20(2), 215-230. doi:10.1080/17408989.2013.868874
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