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News News Report raises serious questions about Independent Public Schools policy

An independent report released today by researchers from the Curtin Graduate School of Business, exposes an agenda of cost-cutting and the shifting of risk and accountability, behind the State Government’s so called Independent Public Schools (IPS) “initiative.”

The report provides evidence that self-managing schools open the way for greater privatisation of the education system, increase the workload of education staff, undermine teaching by increasing administration, and most importantly, do not improve overall student learning outcomes.

The reports author’s, Dr Scott Fitzgerald and Professor Al Rainnie, have examined the implementation of policies similar to IPS in other states and overseas and uncovered a raft of issues that raise serious questions as to the overall benefit of such a policy approach.

The report shows that there is no convincing evidence that the implementation of policies similar to IPS have led to significant improvements in student outcomes. Rather, in many cases they have actually reduced the standard of education delivery and threatened the equity of student outcomes within, and between, schools by reinforcing social disadvantage.

The evidence suggests that ‘greater school autonomy’ is often code for government cost-cutting, as was recently revealed in a leaked Boston Consulting Group report to the NSW Department of Education [see the Sydney Morning Herald article on the leaked report here].

Report co-author Professor Rainnie says the policy is not new. “The concept of self-managing schools has been around for a number of decades during which time extensive research has shown no overall improvement in student learning outcomes and in fact a deterioration in student results in a number of places.”

“The policy is part of a trend to push more of the risk for education outcomes onto school communities and families, and is in line with the Barnett Government’s stated intention to be a facilitator of services rather than a service provider.”

SSTUWA President, Anne Gisborne said, “This report clearly demonstrates the negative effects of governments abrogating their responsibility to public education and local school communities. The truth of the matter is that under this policy, school communities are being required to do more with the same, or less.”

“This report’s findings are very concerning and the State Government should stop its hasty and ill-conceived roll out of this flawed model before it’s too late for the public education system in WA.”

UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said unions held serious concerns for education staff and for student learning outcomes as a result of the policy.

“This policy opens up the way for the privatisation of key aspects of our public schools. The report shows that policies such as IPS increase negative competition between schools which are then forced to find cost savings to try and compete. We’ve seen it before, the first jobs to go are school cleaners and gardeners and this has disastrous results for the school community as a whole with other staff, including teachers, left to pick up the slack.”

“When you undermine the people responsible for the education of our children, you undermine learning outcomes. This simply isn’t good enough. WA is a wealthy state – we can afford to give our kids the best possible education.”

“We’re very concerned that this is being sold to the WA public as an innovative new policy that will improve our education system when in fact it is nothing of the sort. It is a cynical attempt to absolve the government of responsibility for public education and to cut costs.”

“We call on the Premier and the Education Minister to immediately stop the further roll out of IPS until a full, independent, public review has been undertaken into the impact it will have on our education system."

Download the report: 

pdf Curtin_IPS_Report.pdf

 
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