New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 229–244 | Cite as

‘A Government of Transformation’: An Analysis of the Initial Education Policy Directions of the Labour-Led Coalition Government of New Zealand 2017–2018

  • Michael BarkerEmail author
  • Bronwyn E. Wood


From the outset, the Labour-led Coalition Government of 2017 was intent on ‘transformation’. For the education sector, this was signalled immediately with the announcement of an extensive programme of review and reform initiated in their first 100 days of power. Yet, what is at the heart of the proposed changes and what were they trying to address? Drawing on Bacchi’s (Analysing policy: What’s the problem represented to be? Pearson, London, 2009) What’s the Problem Represented to Be? approach, we examine the significant problems identified by the in-coming Government through key public messages during their first 8 months (October 26th, 2017–June 30th, 2018). By analysing official discourses released by Ministers, we examine how the problems which the policies intended to address were constructed and represented to the public. Our analysis identified four main ‘problems’: the de-professionalisation of the teaching profession; the quality of public education; equity and access; and preparedness for the twenty first century. We conclude by examining how the representations of these problems may provide key insights into how imagined solutions are proposed and enacted in the future.


Education policy What’s the problem Labour government Reform Problem representation 



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Copyright information

© New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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