Engaging reform through using language: Vocational education and training in Queensland schools

Year: 2010

Author: Chen, Xiafang, Singh, Michael

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper argues that one of the challenges for education and training leaders is to generate and/or explain and justify new concepts, the changed point of view these concepts convey, and what constitutes an intelligible form of senior secondary schooling. Australia-wide reforms to Senior Learning (Years 10-12) bring with them a loss of existing concepts. This in turn means a loss of the point of view these concepts conveyed and a loss of the ability to decide what constitutes intelligible actions that people can understand in this field. Reforms such as the introduction of vocational education and training in schools (VETiS) can leave educators and trainers with no idea about what is now worthwhile knowledge and skills. Leaders have a significant role to play in this context. Lear (2006) argues that successful leaders facing significant cultural change benefit in part from tracking changes in reality, including the call for new concepts which comes from the declining power of existing ways of naming the world. This paper analyses the language now being used by education and training leaders working in and with schools in Queensland to institutionalise VETiS to become everyday practice. Data from interviews with 58 leaders in Queensland have been analysed with the help of NVivo. New concepts have been identified as providing a new point of view about what makes VETiS intelligible. The frequency of the terms expressing the concepts reflects the changes leaders are now dealing with Senior L/earning in Queensland schools.

Key Phrase: senior learning; vocational education and training; educational leadership