Senate Estimates last night revealed the majority of states and territories have not agreed to implement the Independent Public Schools model promised by the Abbott Government, despite the Commonwealth releasing funds under the program.
Before the election, the Government promised 1,500 Independent Public Schools by 2017:
The Coalition will work with the States and Territories to encourage 25 per cent of existing public schools to become Independent Public Schools by 2017. To support those schools that elect to become an Independent Public School, the Coalition will establish a $70 million ‘Independent Public Schools Fund.’
[THE COALITION’S POLICY FOR SCHOOLS, AUGUST 2013]
However, New South Wales and Western Australia are yet to sign up to the program, and Queensland and the Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions who have said they have any intention of establishing Independent Public Schools under the scheme.
Senator O’Neill: Have any jurisdictions agreed to badge or identify schools as independent public schools?
Education Department: So, Queensland and the Northern Territory is my understanding. There is one state and one territory that have done so.
[SENATE ESTIMATES, OCTOBER 2014]
While Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT have taken the money on offer, they have not agreed to establish a single Independent Public School.
“This is another example of the Government promising something very specific before the election and then completely failing to deliver after the election,” Kate Ellis, Shadow Education Minister, said.
“Tony Abbott has been rolled by the states – the Premiers have simply taken the money and flipped him the bird.”
“If the Government really wanted to improve school leadership and student results, they would have kept their promise to honour the Gonski reforms.”
“Instead, we have been left with token gestures and the biggest ever cut to our schools.”
Improving school leadership – including more flexibility and autonomy for principals – was a key plank of Labor’s Gonski reforms.
THURSDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2014