Unpacking the SACSA Framework: Unsettled policy for unsettled times

Year: 2004

Author: Sellar, Sam

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper tells the story of the political, economic and educational values and ideologies that shaped a particular instance of curriculum policy production - the South Australian Curriculum Standards and Accountability Framework - and how the contradictory policy environment gave rise to a curriculum response with social justice potential. Policymaking can be likened to a 'game' that is complex, subject to social, political and discursive pressures which can marginalise, emphasise and/or refract the intentions and agendas of diverse and unequally empowered agents within the policy production process. Data from interviews with eight such agents will show how diverse forces impacted upon the context of the SACSA Framework's production. These included new management of the State's education department, which promoted, and was promoted by, new economic and managerialist rationales; socially just impulses inhering among individuals and groups within both the department and the university team contracted to write the Framework; and pressures for curriculum that could respond to social and educational needs endemic to our times. While economic and managerialist rationales prevailed in the timing and terrain of the Framework's policy 'game', there was significant space within it for debate about, and the inclusion of diverse and, indeed, contradictory social justice discourses.