Australian Curriculum: English - Leadership negotiating curriculum change

Year: 2012

Author: Albright, James, Knezevic, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Interviews with key players from three school systems during a period in which their respective systems are addressing the imminence of the Australian Curriculum: English highlight the difference in perspectives at this unique, curricular juncture. Conducted over a six-month period, the interviews capture the work being done across multiple levels of each school system to incorporate the AC: English into operational reality, and thus, build insight of institutional processes and organisation through the perspectives and experience of these individuals, in line with the broad methodological approach of Institutional Ethnography (Smith, 2005). The interviews are theoretically understood using Bourdieusian Field Analysis (Bourdieu, 1990), affording nuanced interpretations focusing on contestation and discursive interrelationships. The interview transcripts have been analysed using discourse analysis.

This set of interviews reveals not only the difference of perspectives between school systems but also the competing nature of perspectives within each system's approach to major curricular reform, demonstrating the complexity of charting their respective ways forward. Interviewees within school systems articulate a process of 'policy negotiation' as they work to build sets of priorities and clarify direction within system-level, region-level and school-level contexts. Of particular interest in the interviews is how these key players conceptualise their moves towards realizing the ACARA imperatives of integrating subject English knowledge across three strands (knowledge about language, informed appreciation of literature, and the expansion of literacy capabilities), and increasing the emphasis on the teaching of literature in primary schools and on the teaching of language (including grammar) in secondary schools (NCB, 2009).