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EDLE683 Education Policy

Unit rationale, description and aim

Education is operating within increasingly complex, globalised policy contexts. Educational leaders need to understand these policy contexts if they are to effectively contribute to policy processes and lead the translation and implementation of policy into practices within schools and educational communities.

The unit will explore how policy is developed, by whom, and the global and national influences on the policy process. Students will develop knowledge about the education policy process and skills in examining competing priorities, different perspectives and the values underpinning and driving these processes. Students will be equipped to analyse education policy responses to key educational and social issues, and the implications and effects of education policies on students, teachers and communities.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the knowledge and expertise to contribute to current discourses and debates from an informed professional position and provide a voice to the needs of marginalised and disadvantaged groups, as well as interpret and translate policy into practices in local contexts.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Examine the contemporary approaches and debates in education policy (GA2, GA5; APST(Lead) 1.3)

LO2 - Assess and communicate the strengths and limitations of policy responses to current educational and social issues (GA2, GA5, GA8, GA9; APST(Lead) 1.3, 2.4, 7.2; APSP 1)

LO3 - Evaluate and justify their position on education policy responses to a key social and educational issues, identifying possible consequences and effects on students, teachers and communities (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9; APST(Lead) 1.3, 2.4, 7.2; APSP 2, 3)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence

towards the following standards:

1.3  Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds

Evaluate and revise school learning and teaching programs, using expert and community knowledge and experience, to meet the needs of students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds

2.4  Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

Lead initiatives to assist colleagues with opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.

7.2  Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

Initiate, develop and implement relevant policies and processes to support colleagues’ compliance with and understanding of existing and new legislative, administrative, organisational and professional responsibilities


In addition to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers this unit addresses the following Professional Practices: 

APSP1 - Leading Teaching and Learning

Principals create a positive culture of challenge and support, enabling effective teaching that promotes enthusiastic, independent learners, committed to lifelong learning. Principals have a key responsibility for developing a culture of effective teaching, for leading, designing and managing the quality of teaching and learning and for students’ achievement in all aspects of their development. They set high expectations for the whole school through careful collaborative planning, monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of learning. Principals set high standards of behaviour and attendance, encouraging active engagement and a strong student voice

APSP2 - Developing self and others

Principals work with and through others to build a professional learning community that is focused on continuous improvement of teaching and learning. Through managing performance, effective continuing professional learning and feedback, they support all staff to achieve high standards and develop their leadership capacity. Principals support others to build capacity and treat people fairly and with respect. They model effective leadership and are committed to their own ongoing professional development and personal health and wellbeing in order to manage the complexity of the role and the range of learning capabilities and actions required of the role.

APSP3 - Leading Improvement, Innovation and Change

Principals work with others to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies for the development of the school and its facilities. They recognise that a crucial part of the role is to lead and manage innovation and change to ensure the vision and strategic plan is put into action across the school and that its goals and intentions are realised.


Topics will include:

  • The contested nature of education policy: Historical and theoretical perspectives, approaches and debates
  • Making education policy: purposes, processes and practices - "Democracy" in action, impact of the electoral cycle
  • Federalism and education policy: National agendas and educational reform (including education linked to economic and labour market needs)
  • Globalising education policy: International influences and different policy responses to educational and social issues (including data and policy, International assessment programs)
  • Policy emphasis on evidence, accountability, managerialism, curriculum and pedagogy
  • Social perspective of education policy: questions of access, equity and equality, and voice, including First Nations
  • Schools and systems interpreting and responding to education policy including the impacts of local policy issues
  • Leaders engaging and shaping education policy, translating education policy into action

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit will be delivered online with provision for multimode delivery, for the equivalence of 150 hours of study.

A social constructivist approach is adopted in this unit that requires students to address policy priorities relevant to their professional context. Core content on policy development, framing, and evaluation are provided through lectures, scholarly readings, and online resources. Students then identify relevant policy for critique. Skills in policy development, implementation, evaluation, and critique are developed through case study methods; a range of policies are examined through sociological and Catholic social lenses.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment moves from description, then to analysis, and then to evaluation. This increasing complexity enables students to understand different processes within the policy evaluation frameworks that underpin the learning in this unit. The first assessment task develops skills in the scoping of a policy; this is achieved through adopting the genre of a policy brief. The second assessment applies insight and knowledge from assessment one to analyse in detail a contemporary policy issue through the lens of policy enactment. Assessment three completes the policy development and implementation process through the use of a critical evaluation task.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to successfully complete all assessment tasks regardless of their mode of enrolment.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1:

Policy brief and annotated bibliography:

Prepare a policy brief including an annotated bibliography which examines and analyses a current education policy issue


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2:

Education policy report:

Prepare an education policy report and analysis on an educational or social issue or reform relevant to a selected context.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 3

Write a critical evaluation of a relevant education policy to your context. In your analysis, evaluate how this policy aligns with, or challenges, principles of Catholic social teaching, and how this impacts implementation by leaders


LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bacchi, C. (2009). Introducing a ‘what’s the problem represented to be?’ approach to policy analysis. Introduction and Chapter 1, In Analysing policy: What’s the problem represented to be? pp. 1-24. Pearson Education.

Blackmore, J. (2010). Policy, practice and purpose in the field of education: A critical review. Critical Studies in Education, 51(1), 101-111.

Bourke, T., Mills, R., & Siostrom, E. (2019). Origins of primary specialisation in Australian education policy: what’s the problem represented to be? The Australian Educational Researcher, 47, 725–740

Braun, A., Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., & Hoskins, K. (2011). Taking context seriously: Towards explaining policy enactments in the secondary school. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32(4), 585–596.

Heffernan, A. (2018). The principal and school improvement: Theorising discourse, policy, and practice. Singapore: Springer.

Klenowski, V., & Wyatt-Smith, C. (2012). The impact of high stakes testing: The Australian story. Journal of Assessment, 19(1), 65-79.

Luke, A. (2019). Educational policy, narrative and discourse. Routledge.

Maxwell, J., Lowe, K. & Salter, P. (2018). The re-creation and resolution of the ‘problem’ of Indigenous education in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cross-curriculum priority. The Australian Educational Researcher, 45(2), 161–177.

Mockler, N. & Stacey, M. (2021). Evidence of teaching practice in an age of accountability: When what can be counted isn’t all that counts. Oxford Review of Education, 47(2), 170-188.

Mundy, K., Green, A., Lingard, B. & Verger, A. (2016). Introduction: The Globalization of Education Policy – Key Approaches and Debates. In K. Mundy, A. Green, B. Lingard & A. Verger (Eds). The handbook of global education policy. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley Blackwell. pp. 1-20.

Reid, A. (2019). Changing Australian education: How policy is taking us backwards and what can be done about it. Allen & Unwin.

Savage, G. (2021). The quest for revolution in Australian schooling policy. Routledge.

Snepvangers, K., Thomson, P., & Harris, A. (2018). Creativity policy, Partnerships and practice in education. Springer.

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