Pyne's Tasmanian "Independent Public Schools" announcement exposes policy failure

21 August 2014

It is clear from today’s announcement with Tasmania that State Governments see Christopher Pyne’s Independent Public Schools plan for the flawed policy it is, the Australian Education Union said today.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said Tasmania was the latest state to show it did not support Minister Pyne’s plan to create a two-tier public school system.

Mr Gavrielatos said that, as a result of the rejection of the flawed IPS policy by a number of State and Territory Governments, the Federal Government was now providing money from its $70 million Independent Public Schools (IPS) fund for parental engagement programs, such as the one announced for Tasmania.

“It is clear that the Tasmanian Government and Education Department believe its schools already have enough autonomy,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Consistent with international evidence, the AEU has consistently opposed the IPS policy as having no educational benefit and being a distraction from the resourcing issues facing public schools.

“There is no evidence that the kind of school "autonomy" Minister Pyne is trying to promote improves educational outcomes.

“The OECD’s PISA report in 2009 found that there was no relationship between local autonomy over staffing and budget allocation and student or school performance. The report said that ‘countries that create a more competitive environment in which many schools compete for students do not systematically produce better results’.

“Minister Pyne’s grandiose aim to turn 25 per cent of public schools into Independent Public Schools by funding them directly is effectively dead.

“Tasmania has rejected IPS today, and both the ACT and South Australia have already announced they are accepting the funding from the Federal Government without committing to creating Independent Public Schools.

“NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has also said that ‘we will not be introducing charter schools or independent public schools because there is no evidence they improve student performance’.

“In October 2013, while in Opposition, the Tasmanian Liberals education spokesman Michael Ferguson confirmed that the Liberals have no plans to establish IPS – it is clear that Mr Pyne has not been able to change the Tasmanian Government’s position.

“We are glad to see that the States and Territories are rejecting Minister Pyne's flawed policy.

“Minister Pyne's IPS was supposed to be his flagship policy.

“We have a Minister with no vision for improving public schools, only a plan to cut their funding from 2018 by abandoning Gonski agreements.

“The key issue for schools is resourcing. We need to ensure all schools are funded to a minimum resource standard so that all students get the support they need and deserve.

“Minister Pyne needs to recognise the damage that the Abbott Government’s decision to abandon Gonski agreements will do to students from low-income families, with disabilities, from regional Australia, from non-English speaking backgrounds and Indigenous students.

“Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff has admitted that the Abbott Government’s decision to scrap the Gonski agreement with Tasmania will cut $264 million from schools over ten years.

“That is equivalent to 2640 teachers being lost from the system.

“Without needs-based Gonski funding we will not be able to close the achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

“Attempts to implement thought bubbles like the IPS plan are no substitute for properly resourcing public schools to ensure all students can get a quality education.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291