Teachers’ accounts of their curriculum use: external contextual influences during times of curriculum reform

Kylie Zee Bradfield, Beryl Exley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Curriculum reform is often described as being dependent on teachers’ advancement of reform principles. Many studies report the reasons for whether teachers engage with a new curriculum, and these reasons have focused on internal, personal influences including disconnections between curriculum and teachers’ beliefs and practices. This study investigates nine Australian primary teachers’ accounts of their use of a new English curriculum from data obtained through semi-structured interviews. A thematic content analysis approach was used to analyse the interview transcripts, illustrating significant differences among the teachers in their use of the intended curriculum. The analysis provided four distinct influences on their curriculum use: the provision of professional development; curriculum and leadership roles; use of alternative or additional materials; and schools’ prioritisation of particular learning areas. The findings demonstrate that the consistent use of these curriculum materials, as intended by designers, was appreciably influenced by factors external to the teachers. Implications for curriculum designers include the need for greater consideration of external contextual influences, such as: opportunities for teachers to access professional development, consideration of curriculum roles within schools, the thoughtful provision of additional or alternate curriculum materials, and recognition of the prioritisation of particular learning areas by schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-774
Number of pages18
JournalThe Curriculum Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • curriculum reform
  • English
  • professional development
  • teachers

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