The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation
School of Education
In February 2007 a new senior secondary Physical Education Studies (PES) was introduced in Western Australia (WA). The course was one of some 50 new courses that were developed in conjunction with the introduction of new Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). This presentation draws on initial findings from a PhD study that is investigating curriculum change and reform, specifically in the context of the initial years of implementation of PES in WA. The study draws on Bernstein’s (1990) model of the social construction of pedagogic discourse as a framework to locate and position teachers in relation to other partners in the design process and implementation phase. In particular, the study seeks a better understanding of the relationship between policy making and course design intentions and the often contradictory, contrasting and unintended practices subsequently arising in schools amidst implementation. The paper will present emerging evidence to identify the policy principles and discourses that were established as central to the PES course and how these were progressed and expressed in key course texts. Secondly, it will consider compatibility, tensions and pragmatics featuring in the development and the ways in which these played out in the course design. Finally, discussion will consider how this case study can provide arguably timely input to contemporary policy making and curriculum design processes associated with the Australian Curriculum.