Education Minister Christopher Pyne has unveiled a $70 million Independent Public Schools Initiative to help a quarter of Australia’s public schools to become independent by 2017.
The Federal Government’s plan will aim to make approximately 1500 public schools self-sufficient by 2017 and follows an election promise by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to have greater principal autonomy and parental engagement in school matters.
At the Initiative’s launch on Monday, Minister Pyne said that schools perform better when principals were in control, citing the Western Australia example.
“Western Australia has a particular brand of independent public schools which is very autonomous,” he said. “They are a one line budget item in the Western Australian state budget and the school is run by the principal and their leadership teams and the board of parents, local government people, business people, [and] professional peoples with some knowledge about how to make a school hum.”
Pyne said he wanted to remove the red tape and give principals the ability to choose their own staff and extra-curricular activities.
“We’ll be trusting principals, trusting their leadership teams, to make the right decisions for their schools and to not spend as much of their time on the grind of red tape and bureaucracy.
“One day I would like to see every public school having a level off autonomy and independence that means that student outcomes are a student first priority.”
Pyne said the Government’s money will be mostly spent on building the skills base for principals and leadership teams from schools that apply for the Initiative.
So far all states are on board with the exception of South Australia that is awaiting the outcome of a state election in March.