Created on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:06
Written by David Kelly
The Premier’s announcement of his “new era for public education” (involving the creation of Independent Public Schools) has created more problems than it has solved.
The 2008 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement reached with the State School Teachers’ Union (that he so proudly announced after coming to office) included an agreement that the Department would consult on all strategic and operational issues that affect the Department’s employees.
State School Teachers’ Union of WA (SSTUWA) President Anne Gisborne said today that no consultation occurred in relation to the changes, which will have a massive impact on teachers – nor has there been consultation with the community or the parents that will be impacted upon by these announcements.
“In simple terms, the Premier has announced the establishment of a two-tiered education system in Western Australia without consulting key stakeholders,” she said.
“His plan includes a Principal’s right to recruit and select all teachers and other staff – but says nothing about what happens to the teachers he/she doesn’t select – it says nothing about what happens to schools where the teachers are “cherry-picked” for these new exclusive schools – says nothing about the future of graduate teachers who get “early offers” from city schools and do not do their country service,” said Ms Gisborne. “This will simply mean that country schools will never get to see the best and brightest graduates,” she added.
The plan also allows for Principals to exclude a student from the school without the need for centralised approval. “What happens to the excluded student when the Education Act says that ALL students must get an education? Are they to be sent to non-independent public schools?” she asked.
Ms Gisborne said that there appeared to be no mechanisms in place to ensure that poorer performing students aren’t “excluded” so that the schools results look better?
“In budget management; will the school be able to offer higher salaries to selected teachers? Who sets the budget? What happens if a school runs over budget? – these questions are not answered,” she said.
“There is one other critical question that has been ignored,” she added. “Governments across Australia have invested heavily in the development a national curriculum – and yet this Government will give 30 schools the option of setting their own curriculum.
The Barnett Government is creating chaos in the education arena - with the half-cohort moving into high schools next year, the decisions still to be made on the future of Year 7s … and now this!
“The information provided so far by the Premier suggests that more students and more teachers will be disadvantaged than advantaged by “the new era”,” said Ms Gisborne.
“Teachers in selected schools may find themselves removed from their jobs, local communities may find their local school changing in character and not being what they expected or wanted – and students who expected to be attending their local high school may find that the options they wanted are no available and even worse, they can’t access their local school ,” said Ms Gisborne.
“People have good reason to be concerned,” she added.
She stated that the Union would be looking closely at the details – as soon as they are provided to the Union, but added that there is every chance that the matters announced would be raised in the Western Australian Industrial Commission.