Unrealised expectations: managing multiple stakeholders in the development of the NSW Primary Curriculum Foundation Statements
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 09:52 by Vilma Galstaun
This thesis explores issues of stakeholder power within a curriculum development context: who has it, who does not, why and to what effect this power is exercised. The focus is on the interplay between key educational stakeholders involved in the curriculum decision-making processes related to the shaping of the NSW Primary Curriculum Foundation Statements(2005b). The 'stakeholders' central to the study are educational groups and their nominees who have been elected or appointed to represent the interests of their group. This research represents the first substantive account of the perspectives of the educational stakeholders involved in the development of the Primary curriculum statements. It provides important insights into the role of stakeholder representatives in the development of the curriculum with specific reference to their competing perspectives, ideologies, personalities and agendas. Interest group theory is the theoretical lens used to examine the people and politics involved in decision-making processes of curriculum development. In doing so, the research design used qualitative approaches with sources of evidence gathered from public and private records, media accounts, data obtained through semi-structured interviews, and the researcher's own participant-based observations. Seventeen members of the NSW Board of Studies Primary Curriculum Committee were interviewed, each representing the varying interests of stakeholder groups in education across the state. Using a grounded theory approach (Corbin& Strauss, 2008) and content analysis, documentary sources and interviews were coded and categorised according to the main themes grounded in the data. The themes that emerged from the data were analysed to highlight the nature and patterns of stakeholder interactions during the curriculum decision-making processes. Crical incident analysis was then used to group and classify stakeholder involvement along a historical timeline in the development of an outcomes-based approach to the Primary curriculum. This study builds on Pross (1992) and Freeman's (1984, 1999, 2007) assertion that stakeholder groups influence the policy community through deliberate and careful networking interactions within a decision-making processes. At the time of this study, federal and state government education reforms in the late 1980s and 1990s had significantly affected the development of the Primary curriculum in NSW through the instigation of an outcomes-based framework. Major concerns regarding the workload associated with outcomes resulted inteacher stakeholder groups becoming more politically engaged with the policies and procedures in curriculum-related matters. The incentive for stakeholder participation in educational decision-making processes is the potential to influence what and how students learn. Some individuals, despite claiming to represent the collective view of their group, sought to promote and secure their own agendas. In doing so, they shaped the Foundation Statements to reflect their own world views. This research extends our understanding of the manner in which people exercise power within decision-making processes. It also provides important insights into the effective management of curriculum development processes and the inherently political nature of such undertakings.