Pyning Away

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.

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12 thoughts on “Pyning Away”

  1. Or what about the Finnish education system which has pretty much done away with private schools altogether? (I haven’t checked how set in stone that is, even I am a little confronted by that, just imagine the peacock rant that would trigger off). And not only that, they spend a lot less and “out perform” the US. Funny thing is, they don’t push the win at all costs competition makes you stronger doctrine that we and the states just hammer into everyone, constantly. And then to turn around and go on about the age of entitlement is over BS while demanding such lavish facilities and ski lodges, Olympic pools, the BEST TEACHERS IN THE UNIVERSE, whatever. Neo austerity measure: “only Shore has a stadium almost as big as Stadium Australia, those that choose public schools can make do with an oval, I mean there too lazy to pay for such a massive stadium… so why are the entitled to it? Its that simple.

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/january/finnish-schools-reform-012012.html

  2. Pyne’s imagining is obviously causing confusion already. I heard one commentator saying that this change to 1500 state schools would allow principals to structure the curriculum to seat their individual needs and I heard another saying that they would be required to follow the national curriculum.
    Maybe I’m overly suspicious but I’m wondering if the federally funded ‘school chaplains’ will be encouraging principals to expand religious education as part of their curriculum discretion.

  3. Fact is Independant Schools get far more funding than Government Schools. I am curious about the 1500 schools, this seems a nice round figure and I am wondering if they are really talking about the Catholic Education System. The Government could hardly privatise a small section of the government schools and leave the rest as is. As I said months ago, this is Abbott supporting Pell by doubling the catholics funding, which sadly, will go straight into the vatican or pell’s coffers.

  4. My Kids High School is an “Independent” School, the only difference that I can see from any other school is that they get to be picky about who goes there, charge exorbitant “Voluntary Contributions” and be completely anal about minutiae of school uniforms eg wearing the wrong coloured socks on sports day. Independent schools are still public schools and are subject to the same rules as any other school.

  5. I am really confused.
    Private means just that, so why does the government fund private schools?
    If we go by that SPC is owned by Coke and doesn’t need financial assistance, therefore the Catholic schools are owned by the Vatican who are probably capitalized to more than 50 times Coke’s capitalization, so again why are we funding private schools?
    If the age of entitlement is over, shouldn’t that also apply to miners and every other company including Cadbury who are milking the public tit?
    As I have empathy for the drought stricken farmers, I found myself in that position 3 times in my life, it’s time for a rethink, they been propped up for almost all of the past century and they’ve been conditioned when nasty weather comes the government will bail them out. 3 times I wish the government would have bailed me out and I suspect there’s thousands like me and a few of them would have committed suicide.
    Bail the farmers out for the last time; tell them to find greener pastures because the Age of Entitlement is over.

    1. 100% correct Bob Rafto,I’m near 60yrs.old and have never seen a more bitter and twisted Fed.Gov.and as for the Qld.Gov.well,they have gone back to the Peterson era,
      In my worse nightmare I could not have imagined a more pathetic nation.

  6. One has to wonder what the extent of being “private” means. Clearly from the fanatical dry economic rationalist stance, ever present in out current government, it will mean being free to find the funds to run the school, to a greater or lesser degree. But will they have the freedom that Callie Ge referred to of cherry picking their students? Or determining what parts of the curriculum they teach? Dare they teach history that doesn’t begin with Lieutenant Cook’s discovery of Australia and does include our black history?

    Another thing raised in the comments is the usual furphy about Catholic schools. There are some elite Catholic school, just as there are elite Anglican schools and other non-denominational private school. The vast majority of Catholic schools are parish based, they charge moderate fees to those who can afford it and will happily take in children of other faiths providing the parents agree and accept that their child will be schooled in a catholic faith environment. The schools are owned by the church and the archdiocese plays a major role in the schools upkeep and expansion. If one bothered to research, rather than whinge, one would find that the amount of money per child given by the government to Catholic schools is the same as that given to public schools.

    The most worrying aspect of the whole privatisation of government schools is the lack of Australia-wide standards for education. This was a key motivator for the Gonski review. So not only will the LNP not fund it, they appear to be intent is destroying the evidence by promoting the mess that was there in the past. I am pretty sure that a major consequence of the shambles of the educational past was that only the rich could get a decent education. not that there is any class warfare going on.

  7. According to statistics, there are 6697 government schools in Australia, receiving a total of 34.5 billion funding 1713 catholic schools and 1017 private schools receive 9.8Billion between them. If someone would care to do the sums on how much each school is receiving rather than a per student rate, a different picture emerges. 2.3 million attend government schools, 700,000 catholic schools and 500,000 private schools. Government like to highlight the funding by student, I would like to see the real funding by schools.

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