Great Teaching, Inspired Learning: A neoliberalization of schools, teachers and teaching in NSW, Australia

Year: 2015

Author: Stacey, Meghan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper seeks to contribute to a growing body of international literature which explores the role and nature of neoliberal developments in the education policy context. The application of such theories to the Australian context is a burgeoning, and at times controversial area of research, with some questioning the legitimacy of such concepts in the Australian economic and political arena (e.g. Weller & O’Neill, 2014). In order to contribute to this debate, this paper analyses the recent New South Wales education policy Great Teaching, Inspired Learning, a policy with wide-ranging and significant ramifications for teachers, and therefore deserving of academic attention. In analysing this policy, a combination of approaches has been used. Primarily, a consideration of how problems are represented is undertaken using Bacchi (2009). This is also informed, however, by Ball’s (2012) research on policy networks, leading to a more thorough analysis of the broader genealogy of the developments in question. This is underpinned by a conceptual view of neoliberalism as put forward by Peck (2010), where instead of being seen as one holistic movement, it is instead taken as a complex and interwoven accumulation of individual instances of ‘neoliberalization’, each different and dependent on local context for its shape and character. The focus on teachers in Great Teaching, Inspired Learning is blinkered and limiting, yet this is not its only effect, and the policy must be understood in its full context and genealogy if it is to be fairly assessed. This paper thereby engages with the debate about the reality of neoliberal ideology in Australian policy, questioning the place of Great Teaching, Inspired Learning both within local state politics and the global imaginary, moving the field forward with a complex and nuanced approach to policy analysis.