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2 - Setting the scene

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2021

Debra Hayes
Affiliation:
The University of Sydney
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Summary

School systems in England and Australia

Many people reading this book will know a lot about education in England or in Australia, but perhaps not about both. This chapter sets the scene.

In an era of international ‘policy borrowing’ and ‘policy convergence’ (Ball, 1999, 2019; Sahlberg, 2015), there are many similarities between their education policies. We argue that politicians in both countries have made the same wrong turns and are dealing with some of the same consequences. Yet there are important differences in the structures and organisation of the systems themselves. These enable, or constrain, particular policy choices, creating so-called ‘path dependencies’ in the policy process, and they mean that policies play out in different ways. So, we start by setting out some of the essential characteristics of these education policy landscapes.

A fundamental issue is who makes decisions about schooling. England has a highly centralised system. Central government, in the form of the Department for Education (DfE), sets teachers’ pay scales and professional standards. Systems of assessment and qualification are national, as is the curriculum, and school inspection, although these functions are managed by semiindependent organisations (see Table 2.1). Until relatively recently, there was also a strong role for local education authorities (LEAs). This has been much reduced by the creation of autonomous schools that all report to the DfE. The funding system is now also based on a single national formula. So, the system is simultaneously becoming more centralised and more subject to hyper-local variation as schools can make more of their own decisions.

The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal system of government. The central – or national – government has no specific constitutional responsibility for school education. The six state and two territory governments have historically had responsibility for administration of government schools; development and delivery of curricula; and the regulatory conditions to ensure quality standards across all schools (including non-government schools). However, the constitution allows the national government to provide specific-purpose payments that enable central influence over areas that the states administer. In recent times, these powers have been activated in ways that have greatly extended the influence of the national government over education.

Type
Chapter
Information
Great Mistakes in Education Policy
And How to Avoid Them in the Future
, pp. 13 - 26
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Setting the scene
  • Ruth Lupton, Debra Hayes, The University of Sydney
  • Book: Great Mistakes in Education Policy
  • Online publication: 23 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781447352464.002
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Setting the scene
  • Ruth Lupton, Debra Hayes, The University of Sydney
  • Book: Great Mistakes in Education Policy
  • Online publication: 23 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781447352464.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Setting the scene
  • Ruth Lupton, Debra Hayes, The University of Sydney
  • Book: Great Mistakes in Education Policy
  • Online publication: 23 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781447352464.002
Available formats
×