23 SES 03 C, Curriculum Policy
Parallel Paper Session
In Western liberal democracies, much has been written about the rise of utilitarian rationalisations of curriculum, particularly in reforms from the 1980s onwards (Marginson 1997; Goodson 1997; Young 2008; Wheelahan 2010). This research suggests education is increasingly framed in economic terms and knowledge is judged for its utility in changing labour markets. In many OECD countries, this trend has been expressed through an increased focus on employability skills, competencies and qualifications, with curriculum reforms animated by a desire for secondary education to competitively position young people in the ‘global knowledge economy’ (Skilbeck et al. 1994; Yates 2011).
At the same time, a distinct field of research has investigated changing forms of governance associated with global and economic reforms in education (Ball 2007; Rizvi & Lingard 2010; Savage 2011). This research suggests the role of ‘the state’ is shifting, with an increased reliance upon non-government agencies to support government objectives. Ball and Exley (2010) argue that we are entering a new phase of ‘polycentric governance’, in which policy is produced through multiple and intersecting networks of state and non-state actors. In Australia and the UK in particular, an emerging trend in polycentric governance is ‘school-industry partnerships’, whereby education providers join with industry to achieve specific governmental aims (Kapitzke & Hay 2010).
Despite a proliferation of research in these two fields, very little research has drawn theoretical links between them. What relationships exist, therefore, between rising utilitarian rationalisations of curriculum and evolving forms of polycentric governance? This absence of research is significant, given forms of polycentric governance are increasingly promoted by curriculum agencies in the development of curriculum. In Australia, for example, the Department of Education and Training, in the state of Queensland, has developed a ‘Gateway to Industry Schools Program’, which links schools with prominent industry partners to develop academic and vocational pathways tailored to the needs of priority industries. The project has developed schools such as ‘Aviation High’ in Brisbane, which has designed an aerospace-targeted curriculum, written in association with the Boeing corporation. School-industry partnerships are also being actively encouraged in the state of Victoria, where the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority is piloting industry-themed programs which partner schools and corporations to develop curricula in industry areas with identified skills shortages.
In this paper, I present findings from a postdoctoral research project that explores the role of school-industry partnerships in the production of curriculum knowledge. Combining policy analysis and interviews with school managers and policy actors in the Australian states of Queensland and Victoria, I explore the emergence of school-industry partnerships as solutions to problems of curriculum governance and how these new forms of governance are changing the conditions under which curriculum knowledge is being produced.
Ball, S. (2007). Education plc: understanding private sector participation in public sector. London: Routledge. Ball, S., Exley, S. (2010). Making Policy with ‘Good Ideas’: the ‘Intellectuals’ of New Labour. Journal of Education Policy, 25(2), 151-169. Goodson, I. (1997). The changing curriculum: studies in social construction. New York: Peter Lang. Kapitzke, C. and Hay, S. (2010), School Education as Social and Economic Governance: Responsibilising communities through industry-school engagement. Educational Philosophy and Theory. Doi: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00679.x Marginson, S. (1997). Markets in Education. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin. Rizvi, F., and B. Lingard. (2010). Globalizing Education Policy. New York: Routledge. Savage, G. C. (2011). When worlds collide: Excellent and equitable learning communities? Australia's ‘social capitalist’ paradox? Journal of Education Policy, 26(1), 33-59. Skilbeck, M., Connell, H., Lowe, N. and Tait, K. (1994). The Vocational Quest: New Directions in Education and Training. New York: Routledge. Wheelahan, L. (2010). Why Knowledge Matters in Curriculum: a Social Realist Argument. London: Routledge. Yates, L. (2011). Re-thinking knowledge; re-thinking work. In Yates, L., Collins, C. & O’Connor, K (Eds). Australia’s Curriculum Dilemmas. Melbourne University Press: Melbourne. Young, M. F. (2008). Bringing knowledge back in: from social constructivism to social realism in the sociology of education. London: Routledge.
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