Does Australia have a policy laboratory? Insights from education policy.

Today, at the World Congress of Political Science, I'll be sharing findings from my five-year study examining how federalism directly and indirectly influences policy making in the schooling portfolio.

I’ll be focusing in particular the extent to which governments could innovate in this policy area, which in Australia is characterised by extensive, complex and growing overlap in state and federal roles.

I’ll show that, yes, evidence from this study does suggest the presence of a policy laboratory.

I’ll also point out how this has changed over time, and identify some of the enabling and constraining factors. I’ll conclude with insights on how we can enhance policy experimentation, learning, and “smart” practice to improve policy outcomes.

Here are the slides, and here is my speech.

My favourite education podcasts

The Conversation recently asked me to share my top education podcasts for a piece they published. Here's my contribution:


I’m a big fan of podcasts, from a wide range of genres and subjects. Choosing just one was too hard, but I’ve narrowed down my top three for those interested in education policy.

In its own words, Teachers’ Education Review is:

… the Australian podcast for teachers that bridges the gap between research, policy and practice.

But it’s great for others interested in Australian schooling.

The episodes are long (around 90 minutes), but divided into segments, and the time each segment starts is provided so you can skip straight to the parts you’re keenest on. Presenters and listeners are on Twitter to continue discussions for those interested.

The Early Education Show is an engaging and informative podcast for everyone with an interest in early childhood education and care policies, news and practices in Australia and beyond. The presenters are passionate and knowledgeable, bringing diverse perspectives and just the right amount of disagreement, self-deprecation, irony and humour.

And, finally, Freakonomics Radio is an upbeat and engaging podcast from Chicago uncovering “the hidden side of everything” using actual research and fun interviews with the researchers, activists and others at the centre of each topic. This show covers a big variety of topics, but mostly from the fields of education policy, politics, psychology and economics.