We've been told for a while now that changes were not going to be made to School Governence but with the election only a few months away, apparently they have decided to drop a bombshell on the state school system.
Illustration: Matt Golding.
The State Government will today announce a 'Shake-up' of the state system.Parents will have the power to formally assess how principals perform and school councils will get new authority to shape the way classrooms are run.
Under the changes, school councils will get financial incentives to merge into "federated" boards that oversee two or more schools, in a bid to streamline the way they are managed.( Sounds like annexing in disguise. NO school that annexed under the Kennett years ended up being happy with the process or how it turned out.)
Membership will be broadened to discourage what they call "token teachers" being appointed simply to represent their peers, in favour of staff with wider expertise, business leaders and community members. ( Do the people who dream up this stuff understand how difficult it is to find school councillors especially in rural schools and do they seriously want our schools to be opened up to local interest groups who want to use their local schools to peddle their political, business and religious views? )
And school councils will also get a bigger say in the way education is delivered,by shaping the curriculum, for instance, or choosing subject specialisation.
The government considered giving school councils full authority to hire and fire principals, but decided against it . They basically squibbed that even they they wanted to do it because they feared a political backlash. I think they can take that to the bank!
But in another move that has already proved contentious, council presidents – who are usually parents – will be able to take part in the performance management of principals, advising the education department on how they are faring and what could be improved.
School councils will also provide feedback on the delivery of the school strategy, a move critics fear could lead to some principals being unfairly punished if there are personality clashes with council members.
Education Minister Martin Dixon said "You can't have a school governance model which is nearly 19th-century when you're educating kids for the 21st century," Not for the first time, he is wrong. Our current system of Governence goes back to the 1980s and has seen many changes since then.
Many principals will be outraged, having previously told the government they would not tolerate "any involvement" by school councils in the performance management of principals. Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching warned that allowing parents to have formal input would cause deep divisions in schools, "particularly if pressure is brought to bear on a regional director to remove the principal."
"This is madness and idiocy in the extreme," he said. I wonder what the VPA will respond to this with an election less than 100 days away? Will they pick a fight or accept a bone and roll over?
School councils usually comprise parents and teachers, and can also include business and community leaders. ( The potential is already there to do that and many school councils include co-opted members) Collectively, they have three broad responsibilities: overseeing the school budget, strategic planning, and implementing policies. But the way they operate varies depending on the school and the level of expertise on each council.