National curriculum policy reform in England and Australia: implications for students, teachers and social justice?

The National Curriculum was introduced in England in 1988 and the Australian Curriculum announced 20 years later, in 2008. This presentation begins with a brief history of events leading to the decision to introduce a national curriculum in each country. In order to begin to think about a comparative analysis of curriculum policy reform in England and Australia, the presentation switches to the present and the idea of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) which identifies five recurring international trends in education policy: curriculum and assessment standardisation; focus on literacy and numeracy; safe and low-risk curriculum; business management procedures; and high-stakes testing. Although these common trends have been recognised in Anglo-American systems, their manifestation in policy and practice in different national contexts varies, being influenced by specific cultural, economic and political histories.
Analysis of recent curriculum policy reform reveals common features and differences between England and Australia. Governments in both countries argue that a national curriculum not only enhances national economic success, but also addresses the attainment gap between students from ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘advantaged’ backgrounds, thereby enhancing equity. The latter point is examined in relation to recent claims that social justice is reconstituted through ‘datafication’ of student performance. The impact of curriculum reform is considered in the light of increasing cultural diversity in schools, widening social and economic inequalities and the global rise in concerns about national security.
The findings of recent empirical research in England about the influence of curriculum reform on teachers’ work in ‘disadvantaged’ secondary schools revealed five themes that relate to GERM: the focus on specific subjects and core knowledge; ‘data-fication’; teaching to the test; ‘blame the teacher’; and ‘fixing’ students. After these themes are examined and exemplified, a discussion of the extent to which they may be experienced in the professional lives of Australian teachers will conclude the presentation.


Dr Christine Winter
Dr Christine Winter works in the field of Educational Studies at the University of Sheffield. She is Education Pathway Lead for the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre, the ESRC-funded post graduate training consortium of the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York, and a former Director of the University of Sheffield EdD programme. Her research focuses on the school curriculum with specific interests in curriculum knowledge, politics, policy and practice; globalization and global citizenship education. She has published in such prestigious journals as Journal of Education Policy, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Curriculum Journal, Ethics and Education and Progress in Human Geography and jointly edited a book published by Wiley Blackwell: Re-Imagining relationships in education: ethics, politics and practices.

National curriculum policy reform in England and Australia : Dr Christine Winter

Tue 12 Apr 2016 2:00pm


Room 302 Social Science Building #24