Institutions | About Us | Help | Gaeilge
rian logo

Go Back
Consensus making, brokerage and compromise: the process of curriculum design in Ireland as evidenced in the development of a curriculum in education about religions and beliefs (ERB) and ethics.
Sullivan, Patrick
This study considers the process of curriculum design in the Republic of Ireland through a case study of the development of the National Council of Curriculum and Assessment’s (NCCA) proposed curriculum in Education about Religions and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics for primary schools. This thesis contends that by examining the process through which curriculum is developed, one can better understand the influences that shape it. The research approach is situated within the qualitative paradigm and uses semi-structured interviews to examine the role played by the executive of NCCA, trade unions and school management bodies in the development of a curriculum in ERB and Ethics. What emerges is a complex landscape of power relations, vested interests and influential partners in education. The research presents a new understanding of the partnership approach to curriculum development; one that includes both formal and informal dimensions of negotiation, brokerage and compromise. It also demonstrates that different partners are required to participate at different levels depending on the perceived risk and complexity of the curriculum development in question. While an effective partnership is built upon a foundation of relational trust and confidence, the research presents instances of breaches of trust when brokering agreement. A major finding of the research is the extent to which the conception of ERB and Ethics as a politically-mandated curriculum presupposed certain conditions that positioned the interests of the state against the interests of school management bodies. In essence this resulted in the curriculum development space becoming another arena for negotiations between religious denominations and the State to be played out in the public domain. Evidence of the strategic use of overt and covert dimensions of power by both the state and the Catholic Church are presented, displaying a level of protectionism on both sides. The research also presents a duality of roles played by both the NCCA executive and the policy elite in the negotiation and brokerage of curriculum. What emerges from the research is a clear but challenging path for curriculum development in Ireland centring around the development of a shared understanding of partnership and built upon a set of shared values regarding what a state primary school curriculum should provide for our children. The research unearths the balancing act performed by negotiators of curriculum as they actively manage the expectations of their partners. The duality of roles as both brokers and developers of curriculum places them in a challenging position when dissenting voices call developments into question. The power struggle between partners has been evidenced throughout the research and is often a proxy for wider societal discourses. Participation is further hampered by significant barriers which prevent partners reaching the collaborative partnership and co-leading spaces of the Partnership Participation Matrix, required for high-risk and complex curriculum developments.
Keyword(s): History; Religions; Education; Curriculum Design; Beliefs; Ethics
Publication Date:
Type: Other
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): Cullen, Sandra
Institution: Dublin City University
Citation(s): Sullivan, Patrick (2018) Consensus making, brokerage and compromise: the process of curriculum design in Ireland as evidenced in the development of a curriculum in education about religions and beliefs (ERB) and ethics. Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.
Publisher(s): Dublin City University. School of Human Development
File Format(s): application/pdf
Related Link(s):
First Indexed: 2018-11-22 06:07:56 Last Updated: 2019-02-09 06:07:06