Parents choices in ‘new times’: A case study of The Shelbyville College
English, Rebecca M. (2006) Parents choices in ‘new times’: A case study of The Shelbyville College. In The Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association, 28-30 November 2006, Hong Kong.
Globalisation has created an educational environment where practices of corporatisation, marketisation and performativity are spreading across the globe like a “policy epidemic‿ (Ball, 2003). In the local context, this is presented in two ways, first through attracting overseas students whose parents are seeking an international, globalised education and second through presenting South East Queensland parents with an educational option for their children which prepares them for the globalised world. A recent phenomenon has been the emergence of low-fee, professionally marketed non-government schools located especially in the rapidly developing outer ‘doughnut’ of Brisbane. The focus of this paper is on South East Queensland parents and the reasons they are choosing these new, non-government schools as their preferred alternative to government schools, ‘elite private’ schools or Catholic schools. A case study of one such school, The Shelbyville College, revealed that parents had sought a school they perceived would inculcate valued ‘cultural capital’ (Bourdieu, 1977) and prepare students for an imagined globalised future. This school purports to create ‘extraordinary children’ through exposure to its ‘institutional habitus’ (Reay et al., 2001), particularly through its Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program. An examination of the College’s prospectus (titled ‘The [Shelbyville] College: Extraordinary Kids’) and website using Critical Discourse Analysis (Fairclough, 1989) revealed that the school emphasises cultural capital as represented by the LOTE program to draw parents into a discourse of future success for their ‘extraordinary children’.
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