The Schools Commission: national policies and administration in Australian schooling
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AbstractMaster of Education
The Schools Commission was the Australian Federal Government's policy making agency in schooling from 1973 until it was abolished in 1987. The creation of the Commission as an election promise of the incoming Australian Labor Party Government came after three decades of growing support for a national role in supporting schooling. The Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission established the funding programs and the main educational values followed by the Commission. The largest program provided recurrent resources to government and non-government schools or school systems, on the basis of need. The needs principle was compromised because funding targets were achieved by government schools earlier than anticipated and because from 1976 to 1982 the Government increased support to wealthier non-government schools in the face of contrary advice from the Commission. In 1985 the Government transferred the general resource programs away from the Commission following the report of the Quality of Education Review Committee, leaving the Commission with only its specific purpose programs which were directed to areas of special educational need. The Schools Commission's educational ideas all reflected well established issues in national schooling policy. They represented a policy elaboration of the two basic ideas that schooling should promote greater equality of opportunity and that it should be progressive and child-centred. Traditions in policy analysis and the sociology of education in Australia, Britain and the U.S.A. reflected changes in and informed the policy making environment of the Schools Commission and comparable international developments. Ultimately, however, an historical policy analysis reveals that broad theorisation fails to capture the dynamics and continuities in policy making. The first main set of policy notions of the Schools Commission concerns schooling and the nation. A close examination of these notions illustrates the development of the Schools Commission's ideas about the national purposes of schooling, schooling for citizenship and democracy, and equal outcomes and opportunities.
TypeMasters Research thesis