This paper reports on the findings of an in-depth genealogical study of the discourse of quality in Australian Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) policy. Quality reform has become the foremost global policy agenda for ECEC due to assumptions about the economic potentials of quality services. In Australia, the recent National Quality Framework elevated early childhood policy in Australia from the margins as the lynchpin of a broader economic reform agenda. However, quality ECEC – what it is and does – is a complex, contestable notion that could be considered problematic for the sector to execute, particularly through market models of provision. Drawing on Foucauldian notions of discourse as the ‘already said’, the truth assumptions that have underpinned policy uses of quality ECEC in Australia are identified and critiqued. It is shown that the discourse of quality has been tactically deployed in Australian ECEC policy to realign quality ECEC outcomes with educative outcomes, as a means for government to selectively grow and govern human capital. This positions quality as a high-stakes reform discourse for early childhood stakeholders, entwined with the expanded reach and intensification of selective, performance-related standards and incentives.
SOURCE: Hunkin, Elise. “Whose Quality? The (mis)uses of quality reform in early childhood and education policy.” Journal of Education Policy [Published online 13 July 2017]
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