Local public schools across the nation will benefit from increasing their own local governance and engaging with parents and communities thanks to the overwhelmingly popular new $70 million Independent Public Schools initiative launched today by the Federal Coalition Government.
Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP said the Coalition Government’s Students First education reforms include a goal of 25 per cent of – or approximately 1500 – existing public schools to become Independent Public Schools by 2017.
Launching the policy today, Mr Pyne announced all Federal Members of Parliament would be invited to become ambassadors to encourage schools in their communities to become independent public schools.
“Today I am asking all members of Federal parliament to visit the local schools in their electorates and talk to parents and teachers about the benefits of the Independent Public School initiative,” Mr Pyne said.
“In the past both sides of politics have expressed support for increasing autonomy in schools and there is no reason it shouldn’t have bipartisan support in the future.
“I am thrilled that we already have states and territories expressing interest in being a part of this exciting initiative.
“We are also working closely with state and territory education authorities to increase school diversity and give all Australian students choice for a high-quality education,” Mr Pyne said.
At Ringwood Secondary College in Victoria, Mr Pyne was joined by Victorian Minister for Education, the Hon Martin Dixon MP, to discuss the benefits of autonomy in government schools.
“Victoria has a wide variety of high-quality, autonomous schools working in partnership with their local communities to improve learning outcomes for students,” Mr Dixon said.
“We are looking forward to engaging with the Federal Government on this initiative and submitting our own proposal consistent with our reform agenda to further autonomy in Victorian schools, and show how Victorian schools may benefit from this additional funding."
To complement the Independent Public Schools initiative, the Australian Government has also released an online resource, the Guide for Parents on School Boards and School Councils.
The guide is designed to help explain how school boards and councils work in different school systems and the ways parents can get involved in the governance of their child’s school.
“When parents are involved in their children’s education, both the children and their schools, benefit,” Mr Pyne said.
Research and consultation on school autonomy has helped develop a set of objectives for the Independent Public Schools initiative. These include increasing local and parental involvement in schools, delivering more streamlined budgeting and staffing arrangements and more local management of school facilities and infrastructure.
Under the Students First initiative, the Coalition Government will work with the states and territories, school leaders, teachers and parents to focus on four key areas that will make a difference:
- teacher quality
- principal autonomy
- engaging parents in education
- strengthening the curriculum
“Research shows that in highly effective schools, principals are in constant and meaningful communication with the school community and have the freedom to make decisions at a local level,” Mr Pyne said.
“Our $70 million Independent Public Schools initiative responds to the growing demand for greater school autonomy and flexibility.
“We want to help schools work with parents and their communities to make local decisions and respond to issues that affect the learning outcomes of their students.”
Mr Dixon said it was important that the Australian Government had recognised the importance of local autonomy in Victorian school education.
“Victoria has the most autonomous education system in the country, and we are glad that the Commonwealth understands the great impact this can have on student outcomes, school leadership and professional development, and engagement with local communities," he said.
Federal Member for Deakin Michael Sukkar joined Mr Pyne and Mr Dixon at the launch and said he was looking forward to becoming an ambassador for the Independent Public Schools initiative.
“This is a great opportunity for our local schools to showcase the great things they do every day to make our schools enriched learning environments,” Mr Sukkar said.
Further information on the Government’s Independent Public Schools policy, including the Guide for Parents on School Boards and School Councils can be found at: www.studentsfirst.gov.au.