Doing state policy at preschool: An autoethnographic tale of universal access to ECEC in Australia
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In 2009, the Australian states and territories signed an agreement to provide 15 hours per week of universal access to quality early education to all children in Australia in the year before they enter school. Taking on board the international evidence about the importance of early education, the Commonwealth government made a considerable investment to make universal access possible by 2013. We explore the ongoing processes that seek to make universal access a reality in New South Wales by attending to the complex agential relationships between multiple actors. While we describe the state government and policy makers’ actions in devising funding models to drive changes, we prioritise our gaze on the engagement of a preschool and its director with the state government’s initiatives that saw them develop various funding and provision models in response. To offer accounts of their participation in policy making and doing at the preschool, we use the director’s auto - biographical notes. We argue that the state’s commitment to ECEC remained a form of political manoeuvring where responsibility for policy making was pushed onto early childhood actors. This manoeuvring helped to silence and further fragment the sector, but these new processes also created spaces where the sector can further struggle for recognition through the very accountability measures that the government has introduced.
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