The Education Policy SIG has been established to provide a space in which researchers with diverse ideologies, commitments and obligations can engage in reasoned debate about education policy, broadly defined.

It will encourage vibrant theoretically and empirically informed analyses of education policy and persuade beginning education researchers that education policy is an exciting area of scholarly endeavour. The Education Policy SIG is in the fortunate position of having a number of senior scholars who can (a) mentor beginning researchers and (b) link with established education policy research networks internationally. The diversity of membership will promote greater understandings of education policy by bringing together researchers from central government, tertiary, professional and community sectors.

Since its inception, NZARE has had a strong education policy scholarship presence. NZARE policy scholars have established significant international reputations with their critical analyses of the theoretical foundations of education reforms and structural adjustment programmes. Similarly, since the 1990s there have been various influential independent empirical studies, some longitudinal, of education policy effects undertaken by researchers in tertiary institutions, non-government organisations, professional associations and the private sector. In the last decade systematic literature reviews and centrally funded evaluations of specific policy initiatives have contributed to our understandings of how education policy influences personal and collective experiences of education, as have reports from various education Crown entities. Most recently, education trusts and ginger groups have taken a prominent role in shaping and funding education policy research. Despite the diversity of research foci and methodologies employed by researchers, the workings of the education policy process and its practical effects remain hotly contested among researchers in this country, while professional and public debate is rarely informed by sound education policy research findings. 

Education Policy SIG seminar Monday 8 June

The Education Policy SIG has just held a successful seminar, titled “Taking stock: Perspectives on the government’s education reviews and where to from here?”

After much toing and froing occasioned by the various Covid-19 Alert Levels, the seminar was finally able to be held on June 8, with twenty people having the opportunity to meet in person, carefully separated by 1m, in what is probably going to be the first and last face-to-face SIG or caucus meeting of the year. Another 38 people joined by Zoom for all or part of the day.

The morning had presentations about the review of Tomorrow’s Schools, with Martin Thrupp giving an outsider’s perspective, Cathy Wylie sharing the perspective of a member of the review taskforce, and Judie Alison and Rob Willetts providing a case study of why the government’s failure to profoundly interrupt the high levels of school-based decision-making impacts negatively on the conditions of teachers’ work in some schools and across the system.

In the afternoon there were two presentations on curriculum and assessment. Elizabeth Rata talked about Educational Knowledge Theory and how different kinds of knowledge tend to be conflated and confused in our system. Bronwyn Wood asked whether the review of NCEA was heading in the right direction or not.

The day finished with an NZEI session titled “Change: Being done ‘to’ or ‘with’ or ‘for’” which covered the union’s experiences of change over recent decades. This was presented by President/Te Manukura Liam Rutherford and Campaign Lead Jane Porter.

All who contributed to the final session reflecting on the day agreed that it had been a coherent and very enjoyable programme, and a huge treat for those who were able to be there in person.

To watch the full replay of the Education Policy SIG Seminar please click here.