A socially just rationale for an Australian curriculum? : a critical thematic policy analysis of political speeches in education (2007-2010)

Sesay, Diana Margaret (2013) A socially just rationale for an Australian curriculum? : a critical thematic policy analysis of political speeches in education (2007-2010). Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In late 2007, newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd placed education reform on centre stage as a key policy in the Labor Party's agenda for social reform in Australia. A major policy strategy within this 'Education Revolution' was the development of a national curriculum, the Australian Curriculum Within this political context, this study is an investigation into how social justice and equity have been used in political speeches to justify the need for, and the nature of, Australia's first official national curriculum. The aim is to provide understandings into what is said or not said; who is included or excluded, represented or misrepresented; for what purpose; and for whose benefit. The study investigates political speeches made by Education Ministers between 2008 and 201 0; that is, from the inception of the Australian Curriculum to the release of the Phase 1 F - 10 draft curriculum documents in English, mathematics, science and history.

Curriculum development is defined here as an ongoing process of complex conversations. To contextualise the process of curriculum development within Australia, the thesis commences with an initial review of curriculum development in this nation over the past three decades. It then frames this review within contemporary curriculum theory; in particular it calls upon the work of William Pinar and the key notions of currere and reconceptualised curriculum. This contextualisation work is then used as a foundation to examine how social justice and equity have been represented in political speeches delivered by the respective Education Ministers Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett at key junctures of Australian Curriculum document releases.

A critical thematic policy analysis is the approach used to examine selected official speech transcripts released by the ministerial media centre through the DEEWR website.

This approach provides a way to enable insights and understandings of representations of social justice and equity issues in the policy agenda. Broader social implications are also discussed. The project develops an analytic framework that enables an investigation into the framing of social justice and equity issues such as inclusion, equality, quality education, sharing of resources and access to learning opportunities in political speeches aligned with the development of the Australian Curriculum Through this analysis, the study adopts a focus on constructions of educationally disadvantaged students and how the solutions of 'fixing' teachers and providing the 'right' curriculum are presented as resolutions to the perceived problem. In this way, it aims to work towards offering insights into political justifications for a national curriculum in Australia from a social justice perspective.

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ID Code: 62675
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Woods, Annette & Luke, Allan
Keywords: Australia, critical thematic policy analysis, currere, curriculum, equity, Labor government education speeches, reconceptualisation, school knowledge, selective tradition, social justice
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 19 Sep 2013 04:37
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2015 23:13

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