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Education policy: Mapping the landscape and scope

Sandra Bohlinger, Thi Kim Anh Dang and Malgorzata Klatt

This book maps recent developments in the landscape of education policy in higher and vocational education, the returns of education, curriculum design and education reforms, driven by social, economic, political and cultural factors. Contributed by over twenty authors from five continents, this collection provides diverse, innovative and useful perspectives on the ways education policy is researched, implemented and enacted. It helps researchers, policy makers, students and practitioners to better understand processes of policy making, its theory, practice and outcomes. Despite national differences, many shared features and challenges emerge from this book as education systems face the common need to reinvent their existing systems and processes.

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Separating the sheep and the goats – vocational programs in Victorian schools


Vocational programs for school-aged youth constitute a difficult field of academic enquiry, linking different disciplines, straddling research across curriculum and qualifications, and requiring an understanding of the under-researched links between schools and work. In policy terms this is also a challenging area. It raises the crucial problem of equity and the role which vocational programs play in addressing the diverse needs of a range of upper secondary school students. These are pressing issues internationally in a global context of high youth unemployment, skills shortages and complex, non-linear and poorly signposted transitions. This chapter considers how the university preparatory curriculum and the vocational curriculum have co-existed within the changing structures of schools over time in the Australian state of Victoria.

This chapter considers the establishment of technical schools in Victoria in the early years of the twentieth century, examining the motivations for their establishment and demise and the re-emergence of vocational studies in their current form. It considers the historical evidence for the status of vocational education in schools and asks whether an instrumental motivation – for example, meeting employers’ needs and addressing economic imperatives – has underpinned its existence. It also considers whether the delivery of a divided curriculum can be socially selective and whether vocational education struggles for status and esteem within the traditionally academic mission of secondary schooling.

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