University of Oulu

Questioning equity in Australia’s national schooling agenda : a critical policy analysis of the Australian curriculum policy framework

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Author: Stonestreet, Thomas1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 119
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : T. Stonestreet, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-12-17
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Paradis, Audrey
Reviewer: Paradis, Audrey
Conolly, Joffy Marc


Since the 1980’s many national governments have sought to exert greater influence over their education systems. This trend was mirrored in the Australian context where, in 2008, the Australian Government announced a suite of reforms that would significantly determine the state of contemporary schooling. The most significant reform was the adoption of the Australian Curriculum, a landmark achievement that took close to four decades to realise. The rationale for adopting a national curriculum was stated as a means for improving the equity and quality within the Australian education system. This research seeks to explore the intersections between Australia’s national curriculum policy and issues of equity in Australian schooling. My research aims are twofold. First, I aim to analyse, understand, and explain the motivations behind the Australian Government’s move towards a national curriculum. Following this, I aim to critique whether these motivations correspond with the Australian Curriculum’s stated rationale of improving equity within the Australian education system. My theoretical framework draws from a tripartite combination of critical theory, post-structuralism, and post-colonial theory and where they intersect is through my selected research methodology of Critical Policy Analysis. Through conducting a Critical Policy Analysis of the two policy texts that constitute the Australian Curriculum policy framework: The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) and The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Version 4.0. (2012), I seek to determine how the value of equity is positioned relative to the other policy values. Based on my analysis I conclude that the Australian Government’s primary motivation to adopt a national curriculum stemmed from an ideological belief that education — and by extension, curriculum — is to serve the national economy. This is reflected in the Australian Curriculum policy framework, where the value of equity has been rearticulated into efficiency terms. Without a reconsideration of values, Australia’s long sought after goal of improving the equity within its education system will always remain elusive.

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