Tailored equities in the education market: flexible policies and practices

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The term equity is ubiquitous in Australian education policy and evolves amidst ongoing debates about what it means to be fair in education. Over the past three decades, meanings and practices associated with equity have reflected broader shifts in advanced liberal governance, with equity being reframed as a 'market-enhancing' mechanism and melted into economic productivity agendas. In this paper, I argue that an emerging, yet, under-examined policy tension is the view that secondary schools are capable of being equitable, whilst simultaneously acting as adaptive service providers, tailoring education to different students and local markets. A dilemma here is whether or not schools should 'tailor equity' or whether tailoring equity is indeed antithetical to equity in so far as it implies unequal provision. To explore this tension, I draw upon fieldwork from ethnographic research in two socially and economically disparate government secondary schools in suburban Melbourne, Australia. In doing so, I explore how equity is enacted and governed by educators, how forms of equity at each school relate to versions of equity in policy and the extent to which each school tailors equity to its local community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-201
Number of pages17
JournalDiscourse: studies in the cultural politics of education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

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