Parents Call for No Further Expansion of School Autonomy in the ACT

The following is a media release from the ACT Council of P&C Associations on school autonomy in the ACT

The ACT Council of P&C Associations says that there should be no further expansion of school autonomy until it is established that it will have unequivocal benefits for students.

President Vivienne Pearce said that the ACT Government has failed so far to provide substantial evidence of the benefits of school autonomy.

“It is claimed that increased school autonomy will improve student results. However, the weight of international research evidence suggests little to no improvement. We want an independent review to ensure that the supposed benefits of school autonomy would be achieved in the ACT.”

On the 24th of July an open meeting of the ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations proposed a resolution that was re-affirmed by Council Executive on the 14th of August expressing concerns over the current approach to school autonomy in the ACT.

Parents questioned the purpose behind school autonomy asking: “Is this about getting better outcomes for students or is it just a way to mask further cuts?”

Other parents expressed concern that “The exercise may simply result in the (funding) pie being sliced differently which will mean winners and losers.”

The resolution identified a number of other issues with school autonomy, including:
• The exact scope of autonomy being introduced needs to be clearly defined;
• How funding is to be allocated to schools and what recourse is available to schools if they consider they are underfunded?
• The need for representative oversight of school autonomy matters;
• That autonomy should not be used as a means to shift responsibility for cuts in education programs to principals and school boards;
• The need for safeguards to be built into the funding system to ensure sufficient support for high needs students;
• Appropriate training for school boards, principals and teachers if school autonomy proceeds.

Ms Pearce said that these issues need to be resolved and the community needs to be confident of the benefits of school autonomy before proceeding further with this approach.

Vivienne Pearce

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