Year

1990

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Abstract

The study objectives include a detailed analysis of the forces and processes shaping system curriculum policies developed in South Australia between 1968 and 1985. The study aims to provide evidence of the matches and mismatches between theoretical policy models and policy and practices operating in South Australia, to provide research data of value for future theory building about curriculum policy development, and for curriculum development which can be used to train future policy makers within educational settings. The study is empirical in design, and uses analytical tools developed for public policy. It investigates the degree to which the central curriculum policy making process in South Australia was comprehensive as opposed to incremental in development, whether the sources of the policy agendas were internal or external, how agendas were linked to social and political pressures, whether the policy statements developed by the educational system were outcomes of professional reformers or outcomes of publicly perceived needs, and other issues pertinent to public policy development The study shows that curriculum policy development in South Australia allowed for the acceptance of the broad outlines of existing curriculum policy with only marginal changes contemplated in any new development The processes highlighted the serial nature of the issues, and the piecemeal modification of policies, rather than any single comprehensive approach to the problem. Two stages of policy development were observed. There was a democratic and m consultative stage, where people and organizational politics became as important as processes, and the beliefs and values of key actors as critical as external influences. A brief 'political' stage followed, when other stakeholders or influential individuals reacted to the developed policy drafts and included statements to ensure the achievement of political purposes. The study also found that broad curriculum policy documents proved to be more effective as an interpretation of past decisions than as a programme or plan for the future. Their greatest attribute became their symbolic use as declarations of the activities of South Australia Education Department

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