Failing forward: public schools and new public management
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This article analyses ongoing processes of neoliberalisation within the Australian public education system. Specifically it looks at how the recent incarnation of "self-managing schools" policy within Western Australia extends already entrenched elements of New Public Management, namely market competition, managerialism, and performance management. The new dominant rationalities will have an uneven, yet overall harmful effect on the working conditions of teachers and principals, the largest segment of the state's public sector workforce, and will not prove to be beneficial for the majority of students. Indeed, while these policies may be based on the assumption that, with regards to school outcomes "demography is not destiny", the present policy has strong implications of growing social and spatial inequalities in Australian society. Rather than limiting the roll out process, the clear inadequacies and subsequent "failures" of the existing policy are likely to propel further processes of neoliberalisation in the education system.
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