Year

2000

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

The New South Wales Department of Education and Traming (DET) is a large and complex education authority employing some 50,000 teachers in school education and is responsible for the education of approximately 750,000 students of school age. This investigation examined the role of teachers in educational policy-making and supported the contention that primary and secondary school teachers, as a large professional group within the New South Wales DET, did not have a significant role in educational policy decision-making. It was also established that little research effort had been directed towards the definition and analysis of the proper role of these teachers in the policy process. The enquiry emphasised methodological and theoretical issues in the development of the research tools necessary to imdertake this investigation. These tools were then applied throughout the investigation stage of the research and in proposing appropriate solutions to the problems identified. The methodology developed and applied synthesised aspects of literature review methods (Cooper, 1988; Bruce, 1994; Hehnericks et al, 1991) and interdisciplinary research methods (Klein, 1990; Bechtell, 1986) in order to construct a methodology suitable for application to the research questions. Other aspects of policy research and policy studies (Majchrzak, 1984; Ham and Hill, 1984; Fasano, 1993) also guide the development and application of the methodology. Focus group methodology was applied in order to test the theoretical findings against the expressed opinions of teachers. The results of this study support the contention that school teachers should establish a more prominent role in policy decision-making in public education in NSW. In addition, the research suggested a solution in the form of a policy curriculum developed to improve teacher knowledge of the policy process and enhance access by teachers to policy-making. The significance of this enquiry is in making a contribution to the field of policy studies through the development of methodology and in the analysis of the social problem posed by the lack of teacher involvement in policy decision-making in public school education in NSW.

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