Rachael Jacobs

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This paper is written three years since the Australian Labor government came to power with one of its central promises being the delivery of an ‘education revolution’. As a result, education in Australia is currently in a state of heightened change. This policy is characterised by the introduction of a national curriculum, along with national standards for teachers, the distribution of new learning technologies and extensive building projects. The ‘revolution’ has been met with mixed responses as it encompasses some highly controversial aspects, including national testing and standards-driven reform which have been the subject of extensive public debate. Another controversial priority for reform is "raising the quality of teaching” (Rudd & Gillard, 2008)in Australian schools. This is being primarily measured by results in high stakes national tests, such as the National Literacy and Numeracy test, NAPLAN.

Most writing on the education revolution to date has focussed on analysis of test data or dissection of specific agenda items. There are very few documented responses from teachers on its implementation. This paper uses narrative inquiry to explore primary school teachers’ perspectives of the implementation of the education revolution, specifically relating to creative arts education. Arts education is characterised by the use of creative, complex and reflective thinking that is accessed as students engage in the creation, presentation and evaluation of arts mediums. There is a concern that a heavy numeracy and literacy focus along with increased standardisation will lead to creativity, expression and innovation being stifled in the curriculum. This paper considers empirical evidence of teachers who report on a decline of arts education in their schools since the advent of these reforms. It also discusses strategies used by participants in their continued efforts to access creative teaching and learning approaches in a changing educational climate.

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Conference Paper

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