Local area education planning - Policy planning and practice

Year: 2001

Author: Oerlemans, Karin

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper presents the beginning of an analysis of the Education Department of Western Australia's Local Area Education Planning (LAEP) Framework, which has involved school amalgamations, closures and sometimes the emergence of middle schools. Policy making is an intrinsically political activity; a way by which governments prescribe social change. At the micro level of policy implementation it is likely to be sharply contested as agents (administrators, teachers, parents and students) struggle to understand and influence the changes in progress. This paper is an analysis of what individuals and groups have 'done' with a top-down macro-level policy. The challenge is to reveal the messiness and the complexities of policy in practice, with a particular emphasis on the perspectives of students involved in educational change.

The research involved in-depth case studies of two schools undergoing considerable educational change as the result of LAEP Framework. Data collection methods for this study involved focus group and semi-structured interviews with a number of student cohorts, document analysis, staff interviews and field notes. The initial findings point to significant tensions between the macro level policy makers and the local agents involved in the policy implementation.