Abbott to turn a quarter of public schools 'independent'

THE Abbott Government has begun moves to make 25% of all Australian public schools "independent" by 2017, in a bid to give principals more power to hire and fire staff.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne told News Ltd that "rubber will start to hit the road" next year on the election pledge to reforms state-run schools.

He said the reforms would put students first, with changes key to the Coalition philosophy that "principals and properly qualified parents" should run decision making at public schools.

Similar to previous state government reforms in the health sector, the Coalition's plans include creating local schools boards to determine the strategic direction of individual schools.

The government's election policy said that while the "independent public schools" would remain a state government responsibility, "the way in which the school runs more closely resembles that of a non-government independent school".

But the plan will likely be opposed by education unions, with the potential for extra powers to be given to principals and parent-dominated school boards to choose teachers.

It could also spell the end to collaborative learning in state schools and alternative teaching methods, with Mr Pyne saying he thought "a more orthodox approach is the way of the future".

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten had previously raised his concerns about the Coalition's approach to state government-run schools, fuelling fears the previous government's investments in schools were at risk.



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