Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Independent Public Schools

Now that the majority of government schools are either independent or becoming independent public schools, the rush is on for schools to examine their current practices as restricted by the department and seek ways to differentiate from nearby schools.

I welcome some things about independent public schools.  Without school boundaries, schools will live or die by their academic reputation.  This requires a broad strategy to ensure that students are enticed to each school.  NAPLAN scores, school reputation in the community and reputation with nearby primary schools will form a part of the drive of students towards a school.

Staffing will be a key issue moving forward as schools need to examine both their entry processes and how they wish their organisations to evolve.  The need for stability with driven, dependable, clever and caring staff will test the ability of schools to evolve into independent entities.  Promotional opportunities and the introduction of fresh staff with fresh ideas will be a key change issue in managing staff and developing the organisation.

It will be interesting to see how schools focus on both the long and short term requirements of keeping public schools as going concerns.  Schools that do not take a business approach to education may find that a superior academic programme is overshadowed by a lack of marketing ability.  Gloss and glitter, marketing tricks, making known extra curricular activities and wearing out shoe leather going to feeder schools may be required until parity is regained with the private sector.

I also wonder if short term focus on marketing will overshadow curriculum initiatives.  Ultimately short term tricks will not undo the damage done to education in the public sector through underfunding, mismanagement and poor curriculum direction.  Schools need to look to core business and identify how to raise education standards beyond that found in private schools.  Here again leadership will play a critical component in examining initiatives, encouraging successful attempts and marketing these successfully. Contrariwise unsuccessful initiatives will need to be redirected or discontinued.  Spending will need to be carefully evaluated in a way often ignored within schooling - often to the complete dismay and astonishment of observers from outside the system.

Do we need independent public schools?  Probably not... but we do require change and schools that can make the best of the opportunities have potential to benefit.  Now that the idea has had time to bed down, hopefully (fingers crossed) those that enter in the second and third rounds will not have too many transitory issues.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Blog Author,

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    Michelle Collier


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