This chapter considers the articulation of education discourse through visual representations of curriculum policies in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore under the umbrella of the Global Childhoods project. We are concerned with the ways that policy and culture are co-implicated in the everyday lives of children in global cities. We explore how, in contexts of high-stakes testing, rankings and intense competition, discourses of education are depicted in officially produced visual texts. Texts selected for analysis here focus on curriculum content, learning, and the imagined skills and characteristics of idealised learner-citizens. Drawing insights from social semiotics and using Foucauldian notions of discourse and governmentality, we show how these visual policy texts represent education in broadly instrumentalist terms concerned with “what” and “who” is being taught in a nation’s schools. In all three study sites, these concerns connect to broader economic and social goals, and tacitly reiterate ideologically inflected narratives concerned with the purposes and potential of education. We highlight distinctions between visual policy texts that acknowledge education as an interconnected human endeavour, and those that rely on imagery and bounded lists. We also argue that such images and lists are largely devoid of reference to the students, teachers and societies. Copyright © 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.