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Post-compulsory curriculum reform and teachers' work: A critical policy ethnography in a Western Australian State Secondary school

Coble-Neal, Fiona Elaine (2008) Post-compulsory curriculum reform and teachers' work: A critical policy ethnography in a Western Australian State Secondary school. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis set out to examine how teachers understand, experience and respond to mandated curriculum reforms in English in years 11 and 12 at a Senior High School in Western Australia over the period 2004 – 2005. The time period is significant as it is a halfway point between the commencement of the new policy driving reform of senior secondary education and the partial settlement of the policy and curriculum reform. The research is conceptualised using labour process theory as a means of analysing how teachers are being separated from their intellectual work throughout this curriculum reform process. The methodology chosen to inform this research is a dual approach using critical ethnography of lived individual experiences and critical policy ethnography to analyse the changing landscape of education policy in Australia. This dual approach offers a system level of understanding of mandated curriculum reform with an emphasis on the individual experience of expert teachers implementing the contested curriculum reform.

Several central themes emerged over the course of the research: growing deprofessionalisation of teachers’ work; intensification of workload and curriculum creation; technocratisation of teacher roles; diminishing autonomy, increased accountability and responsibility; and heightened external surveillance and control. Significantly, the data also captured and analysed in this research demonstrates how teachers are continually experiencing the processes of reprofessionalisation as a consequence of sustained critical reflective practice and the imposition of mandated curriculum reform. The data also relates the need for an authentic consultation between teachers and policy makers/government authorities in order for curriculum reform to be successfully established and taken up in secondary State schools. The processes of reprofessionalisation are a source of continued professional renewal and reinvigoration for the teachers involved.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Supervisor(s): Down, Barry
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