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ABC Learning and Australian early education and care: a retrospective ethical audit of a radical experiment

Jennifer Sumsion

in Childcare markets

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9781847429339
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307679 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847429339.003.0012
ABC Learning and Australian early education and care: a retrospective ethical audit of a radical experiment

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This chapter revisits the use of an ethical audit framework developed by Sumsion to scaffold a preliminary mapping and analysis of some of the economic, social and political issues that emerged in Australia with the rapid growth of the corporate childcare provider, ABC Learning during the period 2001-05. Using the lenses of goals, obligations and dispositions as developed by Cribb and Ball (2005), the audit framework is used to examine whether the corporatisation of Australian early childhood care – that is, the rapid expansion and escalating market share of childcare services operated and / or owned by public companies listed on the stock exchange – was in the public interest. It extends the mapping and analysis through to the period 2006 – 2009, when ABC Learning continued domestic expansion and unprecedented international growth to become the largest global childcare corporation, ending with its dramatic collapse in 2008. For Australia, in particular, therefore, the first decade of the 21st century constituted a radical ‘national experiment’ in corporatised early childhood education and care. This chapter undertakes a retrospective ethical audit of that radical experiment. The chapter concludes with reflections on some of the many questions prompted by the rise and fall of ABC Learning.

Keywords: Ethical audit framework; ABC Learning; Goals, obligations and dispositions; Corporate childcare

Chapter.  6209 words. 

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