International Education Journal

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Planning for learning: An exploration of reception teachers' attitudes and practices around the South Australian School Entry Assessment Policy 

Patrick J. Lees 
University of South Australia 


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The South Australian Education Department introduced the School Entry Assessment (SEA) Policy in 2001 to help teachers assess young learners and plan relevant learning events, to help collect information about South Australian education from Pre-School to Year 3, and to facilitate collaboration within and between educational and social institutions. Implementation of the School Entry Assessment (SEA) Policy was supported in a limited number of schools by the School Entry Assessment Mentor Project (SEAMP), which reported generally positive results and concluded that mentoring was an effective way to support new policy implementation. However, the SEA Mentor Project was discontinued in 2005, and it remains unclear how teachers and schools that were not mentored are implementing the School Entry Assessment (SEA) Policy, how they are feeling about its implementation, what training and supports they have received, or how they are using the accompanying documentation. This exploratory qualitative study involved comparative analysis of interview responses from eight Reception teachers currently working in South Australian public (state) schools. It was found that positive attitudes towards the School Entry Assessment (SEA) Policy have not necessarily translated into a thorough policy implementation in some schools; that the practices and attitudes of some teachers may be based on limited understandings about the aims of the School Entry Assessment (SEA) Policy; and that some Reception teachers may not be involving parents and caregivers in their considerations about the policy. It also appears that some teachers believe the School Entry Assessment (SEA) Policy only concerns the first year of school (Reception in South Australia), Data collected for this study lends weight to concerns about the disenfranchisement of teachers and about teachers' workloads, especially concerning non-teaching or administrative expectations, and suggests that more inclusive policy-development processes may engender more commitment to shared goals. The argument is made that new policy must include an adequate budget for initial training and ongoing support to facilitate a successful and thorough policy implementation, and that the savings made in initial expenditure may be a false economy, leading to less efficient long-term use of limited public resources. 

Qualitative comparative research, Junior Primary, elementary education, policy implementation, supports for teachers, South Australian education


Lees, P.J. (2007) Planning for learning: An exploration of reception teachers' attitudes and practices around the South Australian School Entry Assessment Policy. International Education Journal, 8 (2), 145-154.

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