United Voice members are calling on the government to act immediately on recommendations made by a parliamentary inquiry into the Independent Public Schools Initiative.
The report by the Education and Health Standing Committee, which was tabled in parliament on Monday, slammed the State Government’s handling of the model and made 21 recommendations to improve the system.
In particular the committee found the State Government chose “mainly high‐performing schools to be the first to become Independent Public Schools to increase the likelihood that the initiative would achieve its objectives”.
In April, United Voice made a submission on behalf of members to raise concerns about the IPS model in its current form.
While United Voice supports an in-principle needs based funding model in public education, as underpinned by the Gonski model, members do not support a student centred funding system that lacks the oversight and transparency to preserve the quality and equity of public education.
United Voice made five recommendations calling for the Barnett Government to commit to the Gonski model, provide greater transparency and accountability, require IPS schools to employ suitable surplus education support staff and for an independent inquiry into the excessive use of fixed term contract staff in the public education system.
Three United Voice members presented evidence to the Committee where they we able to share their personal stories following the introduction IPS at their school.
“I’ve been working in schools for almost 20 years. It used to be about the kids and their education. Now it’s about money and budgets. I’ve not seen one single positive outcome from my school becoming an IPS”.
Education Assistant, United Voice Member
“We tried to convey our concerns to the education department, but they just sat there and said ‘It’s got nothing to do with us anymore’. I thought to myself, ‘oh my god, yes it does’! We are still your employees, you are still providing the money, you are still accountable! How are our concerns not your problem?”
Cleaner, United Voice Member
“As a special needs EA it is very concerning to see our young people suffering educational neglect, impaired by current deficits in the public education institution and disempowering legislative policy. Such is the case with IPS Principals who have the final say in staffing rations and the perceived justification of withdrawing support staff from students diagnosed with special needs.”
Education Support Staff, United Voice Member
- The Department of Education implements greater accountability and transparency measures to ensure funding is properly used.
- Independent Schools should have the same responsibilities as Public Schools to redeployee staff.
- Professional development opportunities should be made available to all staff.
- There should be a focus on improving teacher quality and teaching practices to improve student outcomes.
- Ensure Public Schools don’t discriminate against ‘difficult to teach’ students in student enrolments and pathways.
- An annual report into Independent Public Schools be developed to monitor student outcomes.
You can view the full IPS report here.
PerthNow also wrote on the report's findings and you can find the article here.