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System Reform in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector in Australia

posted on 2023-05-22, 19:10 authored by Rebecca ShelleyRebecca Shelley
The paper traces the influence of three normative accounts of early childhood education and care upon international, national, and local policy frames. Human capital theories, human rights discourses, and social pedagogic understandings shape policy frames in specific ways. Starting with a broad overview of the development of international organisations interest in the field of early childhood education and care, the paper then turns to a consideration of the reform agenda in the Australian context. Early childhood education and care have evolved as specific repositories of hope for nation states seeking to boost their productivity and secure enhanced life outcomes for citizens. A case study of one Australian state’s attempt to introduce free universal early childhood education and care for children aged three years and six months reveals some of the structural challenges in translating an evidence base and apparent policy consensus into systemic change. The concept of policy frames, politics, and politicking help to reveal the tensions in play. The paper highlights the persistence of equity challenges that exist in the early childhood education and care sector in Australia.


Publication title

Oxford Encyclopedia of School Reform


GW Noblit






Peter Underwood Centre


Oxford University Press

Place of publication

United Kingdom



Rights statement

Copyright 2021 Oxford University Press

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education; Policies and development; Children's services and childcare

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