Life is complex, with so much to consider, especially when it comes to careers. There are many different career paths to choose from, each with its benefits and challenges. Some are drawn to medicine or law, and others would instead learn a trade and start a business. For some people, the creative or performing arts are alluring. However, no matter the field – everyone has to earn a living. We all have bills, rent, and eventually mortgages to pay, along with all the other expenses associated with daily life.
Educational policy development is a niche career choice that some people are drawn to. But what exactly does making educational policy involve? And how do you get into this field? So many questions! This helpful article will answer all the questions you might have about this topic. So, continue reading to learn more.
What Qualification is Needed?
What qualification will enable you to create educational policy? An online master’s in education is the right place to start, with this postgraduate qualification setting you up for a career in educational policy development and review.
This degree is perfect for those who want to kickstart their education career and get a foundational grounding in teaching practices before embarking on a career in policy development. You’ll learn research-informed practice and the best approaches for teaching, and you’ll be empowered and enabled to become an expert in education.
What is Educational Policy?
Before we get further into this informative article, let’s discuss just what educational policy is.
Policy is a term used to describe a set of guidelines, principles, procedures and frameworks that underpin a particular practice. For instance, healthcare policy informs how hospitals and other healthcare providers should operate. Government departments that oversee particular services in society are typically responsible for developing, reviewing and implementing policy.
Within an educational context, policy refers to the underpinnings that all schools should follow when educating students. There may be a range of policies implemented by federal and state governments. Furthermore, at a local level, individual schools might develop their policies to address a specific need or function, such as a naked lunch policy, where children aren’t permitted to bring wrapped snacks in their lunchboxes.
Why is Educational Policy Important?
Educational policy is essential for many reasons. Schools (primary, secondary, and tertiary) are organisations, and policy provides clear guidance for their practice. Policy also reduces the risk of liability while promoting consistency across the educational system.
Policy development can also build a healthy reputation for educational institutions and provide essential parameters for teaching students. They also provide rules for staff to follow and can support inclusion and diversity.
How is Educational Policy Developed?
In most cases, educational policy is developed to support national or state-based strategies that the government has developed, which aim to support learning, student wellbeing and good teaching practice. For instance, the federal government has developed strategies to support learning, promote diversity and inclusion in classrooms, and re-engage students who missed school during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Additionally, policy governs standardised testing, such as the NAP assessment.
Once the strategy is set, specialist workers in government departments, such as policy officers, policy analysts, policy managers and policy directors, are responsible for writing policies. These guiding documents are often developed over time, with input from various stakeholders. For instance, the relevant government ministry has input, as do the specialist workers. Other stakeholders, such as teachers, parents, and sometimes external consultants, are also involved in developing policy.
Furthermore, there will often be an iterative draft process, where a policy goes through several drafts before being finalised. A multi-staged approval process follows, with many layers of review and approval before a policy is finalised and delivered.
Policy Worker Tasks
You may be wondering what tasks a policy worker undertakes. These varied roles are responsible for a range of different jobs, including:
- Consulting with a range of stakeholders to identify policy needs
- Review, develop new policies, and analyse existing policies
- Prepare briefing papers and recommendations
- Assess the impact and feasibility of policies
- Identify legal, political and ethical issues
- Provide advice and recommendations for senior managers and government officials
- Write and present reports
- And a range of other tasks.
Some Examples of Educational Policies
It’s worth providing some examples of educational policies that are utilised at various levels of the education system to give you a clear idea of what this work involves.
Inclusive Educational Policies
Inclusive education means that all members of every school community, including students, teachers and other staff, are valued. It also means they are supported to fully participate, develop, learn and engage in a supportive structure. Inclusive policy aims to create safe, inclusive and supportive school environments for students with disabilities. This includes neurodiverse students who may have autism or attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.
The initiatives that arise out of policies like this focus on developing the knowledge and skills of teachers and other staff and giving schools crystal clear guidance and specialist support to be able to respond to the needs of students with disabilities and learning difficulties. State government departments will usually develop and maintain inclusive educational policies, but schools may also develop their own local guidelines for inclusivity and diversity.
Duty of Care
A critical educational policy that intersects with legislation is the duty of care. This policy covers what schools are responsible for while children are at school. Duty of care means that schools must take reasonable steps to protect children from harm while they’re at school.
Duty of care can have profound legal implications for teachers, administrative staff and schools if they are found to have breached it. For instance, a school has failed in their duty of care if a child is bullied while at school or suffers an injury that could have been prevented.
Duty of care policies are typically developed at a federal or state government level and are also informed by law.
This helpful article has shared all about educational policy development, including why it is essential, how educational policy is made and maintained, and what specialist policy workers may do while performing their role. We’ve also covered two examples of educational policies that are relevant to schools. By now, you’re an expert on the topic.
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