whole_GardnerChristineMargaret2006_thesis.pdf (17.94 MB)
An opportunity missed? : trajectories of one education policy in the Tasmania Government school system
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 19:39 authored by Gardner, Christine Margaret
This study examined one instance of the implementation of an initiative announced by the Tasmanian Minister for Education during its trajectories in the Tasmanian Education Department and in a sample of schools. This thesis was undertaken to present a report that would provide rich data, particularly from Tasmanian education policy implementers' perspectives. Accordingly the researcher aimed to add substantial detailed material to the literature that was located prior to and during the completion of this study. This literature was typically broad but revealed few Australian studies, particularly Tasmanian studies, none of which provided the depth of description presented in this thesis. The major focus of this thesis is on policy trajectory during implementation at Department level, subsequent implementation with teachers via the implementation of a Key Teacher Program, initially in the form of a series of professional development sessions, and eventual accounts of implementation in a sample of six schools. The major focus on school-based policy actor interviews and questionnaires concurred with the placement of school-based policy implementers' reports at the heart of this study. The data were gathered from the teachers at three different occasions approximately one year apart. Some participants took part in a retrospective phase that enabled their retrospective contributions questions about this instance of the entire policy process. The Minister for Education and a senior officer of the Education Department were interviewed to achieve enhanced understanding of factors that influenced implementation. In order to give due recognition to the context, the policy's initial path was tracked using a historical approach to examine a variety of print media reports and documents. The use of multiple sources through sourcing of data from a range of policy actors, in addition to the print media, Hansard and Education Department and Program documents assisted in establishing verification of policy actors' perceptions. Despite allocation of markedly insufficient resources to support the work of the Department and schools, varying amounts of change were reported by participants, ranging from no change to positive progressions in implementation. Tension characterised the policy process and emerged in several guises: the contest between agendas, particularly between the political and educational rationales; the mismatch between the acknowledged problem and identified strategy; the eventual dissatisfaction with insufficient opportunities to learn, the inability both to network with colleagues and to implement the Program in schools; issues of time and timing, related to communication and support for implementation; and the inadequacy of the selected model of professional learning, dependent on a \key teacher\" compared with the expressed preferences for a team approach or indeed a whole-school-capacity model. In this instance of policy however it appeared that internal school factors for example leadership decision-making processes setting priorities and the imaginative use of resources provided externally played an important role in successful implementation. Furthermore this success appeared to be to a great extent linked to internal school factors rather than to the support and resources provided to schools. Additionally shared and devolved leadership practices within a school appeared to contribute more to reported achievements than the position the teacher held in the school. Addressing the gaps that develop between political and educational agendas is crucial. Improved understanding of what motivates policy actor groups may enhance the ways in which these groups view each others' work and potential to contribute to the policy process. Schools need time to prepare for the implementation of change in ways that enable identification of the links between school priorities and policy goals. An overloaded policy context can reach the point of making it difficult for schools to know which policies they can in fact implement satisfactorily. It is apparent however that these tensions will not readily be alleviated. Therefore school-based policy actors might find support by adopting a stance that enables them to realise their agency in achieving their school goals while making the most of opportunities and resources to use external provision. The role of internal school factors deserves increased consideration both in terms of future research and of current practice."
Rights statementCopyright 2006 the Author ‚Äö- The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (EdD)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references