Education Minister Christopher Pyne has announced a $70 million Independent Public Schools Initiative, which aims to make around 1,500 more public schools autonomous within the next three years.
“I imagine the Commonwealth’s money will mostly be spent on building the skills base for principals and their leadership teams in schools that apply for independent public schooling,” he said.
“The more a principal and their leadership teams have control over the destiny of their own school the more that seems to lift that school’s performance.”
Mm, there are only three points about the latest thought bubble from Christopher Pyne.
- First, if they think that making government schools “independent” will improve them, why restrict it to just a quarter of schools?
- Second, I’m fascinated by language. So the words “imagine” and the other words I highlighted are significant.
- Third, how does this fit with the review of Australian Curriculum?
If the first point is correct, is this a beginning? Will we see all schools “autonomous” in future years? And if it’s a better system, why not? Now, there is something to be said for autonomy. However, how will Mr Pyne react when this autonomy is used in a way that isn’t politically acceptable? For example, what if the principal encourages the students to write to the local member complaining about the failure to implement Gonski? I could go on, but I haven’t really thought this through. I merely imagine how this will work, but it seems that there is no actual model that I can talk about.
Which brings me to the second point about language. Here we have a government that can’t find money to keep things going. Forget SPC-Ardmona, there are a range of other things that have to close because the government doesn’t have the funds. But we’re committing $70 million dollars to something which the Education Minister IMAGINES will be spent on “building the skills base for principals and their leadership teams”. And how much will be spent on building the skills base for principals in schools which don’t?
Still we have something worth spending money on because it SEEMS to lift performance. Enough said on that one, even before I say anything.
And, of course, the third point, is the fact that Pyne has just appointed Kevin “My way or the highway” Donnelly to conduct a review of the Australian Curriculum. There is so much to write about that one that I’d be here for a month. Suffice to say that I suspect that autonomy may only be given to the principals that show they know how to use their autonomy in ways that please the “home team”.
Yes, I realise that this is rather brief. It only has even less detail than Christopher Pyne’s announcement.