An exploration of the interface between policy and practice

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The domains of policy and policy implementation have been researched to a far greater extent than the link and interface between these two domains. It is this area that the current study attempts to explore. Education Support Services (ESS) and particularly psychological service delivery as part of this service within the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), has seen several new policy proposals and documents during the period of 1994-1995 and the practitioners in this field are currently in the process of implementing (some of) these new policies. This study explores the interface between new policies (policy domain) on the one hand, and the practice of psychological service delivery to schools (implementation domain) on the other hand. Discourse analysis and specifically the technique of discourse analysis proposed by Ian Parker (1992) provides a framework to analyse and understand the issues involved in these two domains, and as such, the relationship between them. In this regard, the following trends in the data are interesting : the positive patterns regarding the interface between policy and practice obtained from the data include a team worker, democratic discourse and new world. The above-mentioned person-position, discourse and world represent the values of the new policies and therefore facilitate the implementation process. There are, however, also certain negative signals contained in the data, namely: a victim, an us-them discourse and a cruel world. These patterns pose a threat for the implementation process. The study therefore provides a working document for those involved in policy making in ESS to ensure a smooth implementation process. It will also help the practitioners (school psychologists) and departmental officials in ESS to understand the issues involved in transformation and the need for different actors on the policy-practice continuum to talk.

Bibliography: pages 113-117.