As I was re-reading my last post, I recalled using that paper as the foundation for a chapter on the context in my PhD thesis (2004). The chapter, however, had a broader context, and included a rather extensive section on the role of the Commonwealth Government in State education. An interesting topic considering the current movement towards the National Curriculum and discussions on Commonwealth funding models. This chapter does not address that issue specifically, though glances off it on the side and offers a historical perspective to the growing role of the Commonwealth Government in Australian school’s education debate.
A Study of Educational Change in the Context of Western Australia
Educational change, in Western Australia as elsewhere, has taken the form of major school restructuring and school reculturing, often with an underlying rationale for improving the educational success of all students. Historically many of the changes introduced in schools have been a result of top-down policy initiatives and have sought to address specific issues of academic failure, school dropouts, student alienation, and the need to equip students to be contributors in an increasingly complex society. To this end in late 1997, the Western Australian Government released its Plan for Government School Education to set the direction for the government education system over following three years and into the twenty-first century.
However, policies are never released in a vacuum. There are a number of contexts, which will impact upon how the policy is written, how it is received and how it is acted upon (Taylor, Rizvi, Lingard, & Henry, 1997). When investigating the LAEP Framework it becomes apparent that the intentions of the policy are exposed by understanding these various contexts and that two, possibly conflicting, discourses can be identified. These will be discussed in more detail later. First, it is imperative to outline both the present context of the nature of State secondary schooling in Western Australia, the role of the Commonwealth Government, and the historical location of the policy, as argued by Ranson (1996) as being essential to any policy analysis.