Responding to the independent “Facing the Facts” review into Western Australian public schools handed down this week, Principals Federation of Western Australia President Bevan Ripp says alleviating the issues faced by public-school teachers must not remove school leaders’ autonomy. The Review Panel chaired by Dr Carmen Lawrence is to be commended for their work, however the review has not unearthed any facts that were not already well-known at Department and Government level.

The “Facing the Facts” report commissioned by the SSTUWA has laid bare the desperate state of WA’s public-school teachers, which includes the harrowing statistic that 86 percent of public-school teachers are considering leaving the profession; and has made 46 recommendations for improvement.

“Returning to a one-size fits all centralised model, as a number of the recommendations highlight, is effectively turning back the clock,” Mr. Ripp said.

“By removing school leaders’ limited autonomy, existing problems will be worsened. We need our teachers and school leaders to be able to plan and apply strategies according to the needs of each setting.

“Centralising the system will disempower principals in their role of leading this process,” Mr. Ripp said.

PFWA point out linking the Independent Public-School strategy (IPS) and current problems facing public education in WA is clouding what is at the heart of the crisis faced by the teaching profession. SSTUWA report’s attack on IPS contradicts a key recommendation of the recent Productivity Commission report; that school leaders need a level of autonomy in order to respond in a timely manner to the changing needs of their students across the range of settings in which they are enrolled.

“Re-introducing a centralised staffing model once again will not help in a teacher shortage where there are not enough bodies to go around. The focus needs to be on attraction, and then retention.” Mr. Ripp said.

“It is important to note the Western Australian public-school system is performing well, however our support of the WA public-school system will always be underscored by a push to improving standards and for a state like WA, a one-size centralised blanket is not going to provide the answers.

“What’s needed is for current and future governments to direct funding to make salaries competitive and resourcing equitable; to raise the status of the profession in the eyes of community; discussion and reform around teacher training programs preparing them to step into classrooms that are more complex than ever; and develop policy and promotion to encourage more robust sharing of the responsibility to address societal and community issues by all as opposed to leaving schools solely responsible,” Mr. Ripp said.

PFWA backs WA principals and deputy principals in their push for budget, resources and empowerment to actively address these critical issues as it is the responsibility of school leaders to set the conditions in schools in which staff, students and the broader community thrive.

WA’s school leaders need to be better supported and resourced, not undermined to continue to work hard every day to deliver the best education possible to their school communities.




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