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Analysing Education Policy

Posted on: March 26, 2024

This opinion piece was contributed by the editor of the book "Analysing Education Policy,"  Meghan Stacey is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Education and Education Policy at the UNSW School of Education and Nicole Mockler is a Professor of Education at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.

  1. Can you provide a brief overview of your book 'Analysing Education Policy?
    Analysing Education Policy: Theory and Method is an edited collection which aims to provide guidance to academics and research students for the critical study of education policy. It includes chapters from internationally recognised and established scholars, as well as authors who are earlier in their careers, in an effort to show how different questions in education policy can be both asked and answered.

  2. What motivated you to delve into the analysis of education policy, and how did you define the scope of your book?
    In our teaching, students sometimes seem to find it difficult to ask any question of education policy other than, 'but does it work?' We find this question barely scratches the surface of what is interesting to think about on the topic of education policy. So, we decided to put together a book that might open up ways of thinking about education policy, for the benefit of postgraduate students as well as academics who already work in this space but are perhaps looking for new questions to ask and approaches that might help them to address these. Given that much education policy analysis focuses on the 'text', we divided our book into two overall sections - one on text analysis in critical education policy studies, and one on participant analysis in critical education policy studies.

  3. Could you briefly explain the research approaches used in analyzing education policies that are addressed in this book?
    One thing that the contributions to this book have in common is that they adopt a critical approach to education policy analysis. As distinct from the kinds of questions we had often been getting from our students, this book is not about 'what works' in education policy. Instead, it's about how we can open up questions about what education policy is, how it operates and what it does. Within this general orientation, the contibutors to this book collectively consider a wide range of analytical approaches. The chapters we include focus on the following: Critical Discourse Analysis; thinking with Foucault; Indigenist Policy Analysis; media analysis; analysis of educational promotional material; online policy sociology; network ethnography; actor-network theory; materialist approaches; Institutional Ethnography; decolonizing curriculum policy research; working with children and young people; and research with policy elites.

  4. How do you envision readers applying the knowledge gained from your book in practical settings?
    We hope that researchers in education policy will be able to use this book to help them broaden their methodological and theoretical repertoire in analysing education policy. This book is by no means giving anyone everything they need to take a new approach to policy analysis, but our aim was that it might give people a place to start.

  5. Lastly, what are the takeaways from "Analysing Education Policy: Theory and Method" for the intended readers?
    It is our hope that readers will take away some different questions they can ask of the education policy they encounter, and some greater clarity and confidence about ways to answer these questions.