The shifting landscape of Australian schooling reform: Possibilities, problems and politics
Australian schooling is undergoing rapid change as a result of unprecedented national reforms in areas including curriculum, assessment, teaching standards and school funding. While there are strong arguments for national consistency on the grounds of equity, effectiveness and efficiency, attempts to achieve national reform face a number of complex challenges. In Australia’s federal system, states and territories retain responsibility for schooling, yet recent decades have seen federal government influence progressively increase, intergovernmental agreements and processes intensify, and powerful new roles emerge for policy organisations such as the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), and the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). This shifting political and policy landscape is generating heightened uncertainty and contestation about how schools are governed, how policies are developed and about which level of government is ‘best placed’ to govern education into the future. In this context, questions about who steers or controls schooling are not only more frequent, but are also increasingly difficult to answer. In this seminar, Dr. Glenn Savage will analyse the complex ways that national schooling reforms are evolving in Australia’s federal system, with a particular focus on how state education departments and agencies are responding to national reforms. Based on emerging findings from a current Australian Research Council project, Dr. Savage will examine the possibilities, problems and political challenges being generated in the contemporary reform landscape, and make recommendations for improving national policy processes.
Dr. Glenn Savage is a Senior Lecturer in Education Policy and Politics in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on education policy, politics and governance at national and global levels, with a specific interest in federalism, intergovernmental relations, and policies relating to curriculum, equity and standards-based reform. Dr. Savage currently holds an Australian Research Council ‘Discovery Early Career Researcher Award’ (DECRA) titled ‘National schooling reform and the reshaping of Australian federalism’ (2016–2019).