Symbolic and material policy in Australian Early Childhood Teacher Education

Year: 2019

Author: Grieshaber, Sue, Fox, Jillian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Much policy talk in early childhood education (ECE) internationally and in Australia reflects the significance of degree qualified teachers for enhancing the quality and equality of provision of ECE. It also highlights the importance of degree qualified teachers in improving child outcomes, especially for children of colour and from low income families, thus addressing aspects of equity. But what are policies saying about early childhood teacher education (ECTE)? Every year for the past 30 years in Australia, there has been, on average, one major state or national inquiry into teacher education (Dinham, 2006, 2008b). No other program of professional preparation has warranted such scrutiny. Despite these successive reviews, ECTE remains shrouded in a cloak of invisibility because the focus is often children and families, rather than educators or teacher education. This paper presents an exploratory analysis of policy documents from 2008-2019 for the specific purpose of discerning the development and enactment of policy related to ECTE. It analyses policy documents from materialist and symbolic perspectives (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010) to show the absence of discourse about ECTE and the prevalence of symbolic compared to materialist policies.