Illusions of consensus: New South Wales stakeholders' constructions of the identity of history

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses the relationships between the perspectives of stakeholders involved in the development of the 1998 New South Wales Stages 4–5 history syllabus. It examined four key issues that emerged in the debates about history education during the review and found that stakeholders' views diverged significantly on three of these issues. While loose coalitions formed around particular issues, stakeholders provided different rationales for their positions, and coalitions re-formed on other debates. The analysis highlights the divergence between stakeholders and between the Commonwealth and state governments and stakeholders on the desirable content and goals of history education. The findings indicate that consultation might not produce consensus, and that even the appearance of consensus can be grounded in substantively and philosophically different premises. In practical terms, the findings suggest that if the purpose of consultation as a method of curriculum development is to produce a syllabus that reflects the diverse perspectives held by stakeholders, then the syllabus structure needs to make provision for content options as well as common core areas of study. Copyright © 2006 British Curriculum Foundation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-366
JournalThe Curriculum Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


need structure
history of education
curriculum development


Simpson, I., & Halse, C. (2006). Illusions of consensus: New South Wales stakeholders' constructions of the identity of history. The Curriculum Journal, 17(4), 351-366.


  • History
  • New South Wales
  • Qualitative research
  • Secondary schooling
  • Syllabus design