The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Continuing Accountability Discourse in Education


Currently, Australian governments are again shining the spotlight on education and teacher quality. This has particularly resulted from literacy and numeracy results slipping in the PISA measure of student performance. Such performance and teacher quality become inextricably linked and, almost inevitably, teacher education is the subject of reform. In this paper, the author analyses the competing discourses of two recent government campaigns for ‘better’ schools and improved teacher quality. The first campaign examined is the 2012 Commonwealth government campaign, launched through various media, titled “Better Schools for Australia”. Here, the discourse of inclusive opportunity is set against that of economic rationalism. In the second campaign, “Great Teaching, Inspired Learning”, similar discourses are examined as well as the discourses of accountability and performativity. This latter is discussed within the focus of teacher education in particular. The discussion of the government campaigns is firstly grounded in the literature of contesting views of the purposes of education and the ways in which both of the campaigns contain elements of several discourses. The author demonstrates how the economic and accountability discourses dominate and deflate the other discourses of need and inclusion. There is also discussion of the ways in which the rhetoric of the initiatives is overshadowed in practice by economic rationalism. The paper is concluded with a discussion of what these prevailing discourses mean for teachers and pre-service teachers and how teachers and their teaching are being positioned by the accountability discourse.

Author Information
Yvonne Masters, University of New England, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2014
Stream: Challenges and transformation in times of change

This paper is part of the ACE2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon