Discursive mélange and multiple dilemmas: navigating New South Wales ‘special’ education policymaking

LCJ 24 cover

Jessica Chong

LCJ: Number 24, October 2019, pp. 80-97

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Chong, J. (2019). Discursive mélange and multiple dilemmas: navigating New South Wales ‘special’ education policymaking. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 24, 80-97. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18793/lcj2019.24.06



The article is aimed at deconstructing the complexities involved in the process of ‘special’ education policymaking in New South Wales (NSW) with a focus on departmental challenges and the dynamics of external influences. Rather than full inclusion, the NSW government has maintained a strong policy position endorsing a continuum of support services to achieve middle ground among differential parental demands. The multiple dilemmas circle around dissimilar views and preferences of various stakeholders, consequentially giving rise to a rich hybrid of ‘special’ education discourses in NSW evolving from integration, inclusion to diversity. The Australian government has persistently supported school marketization and a strategic performance-based reward system that has widened the social divide instead of mitigating the influence of student’s background on educational outcomes. The cascade of accountability induced by the federal competitive agenda has aligned the NSW Government and its schools to bid for greater academic excellence while inclusion and equity are inadvertently sidelined in policy agenda.


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