“With declining standards and results in NSW government schools, many families are trapped with poor learning opportunities for their children. They can’t afford non-government school fees and they cannot find a local public school that meets their needs. This is why a third option is needed, an extra schooling choice that allows parents to take greater control of their children’s education. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation supports the introduction of parent and community-run Independent Public Schools in NSW to help these parents and students.”
Since 2010 Western Australia has pioneered a system of Independent Public Schools. These are government-funded facilities run by school boards, comprising parents, teachers and industry and community representatives. The initiative started with 34 schools Statewide and has grown to 531, with another 42 starting in 2019. They have been hugely popular, now covering more than 80 percent of Western Australia’s public school students and teachers.
This is similar to the American charter school model. Having applied for and received their own mandate, Independent Public Schools sign up to a ‘Delivery and Performance Agreement’ with the education department, ensuring they fulfill their charter of service delivery.
Under the WA system, schools have autonomy from centralised departmental control (a major problem in NSW). They can determine their own arrangements for student support, staffing, governance and budgeting (having received a one-line financial allocation from central government). Most importantly, they have a higher level of parental input and accountability to the community.
One Nation supports the creation of Independent Public Schools in NSW. This is a proven way of increasing parental choice, especially for lower income families. It also fosters greater competition between various school models. It helps to decentralise power away from suffocating bureaucracy to parents, teachers and local communities.
Selective schools are another important component of parental choice in education. The purpose of the schools system should be to maximise the potential learning ability of every student. This extends from the lowest to the highest levels of ability. Naturally, much of the focus of education policy is on disadvantaged students – lifting the performance of the bottom cohort of learners.
It is important not to overlook the needs of the brightest students. They too should have a learning environment available to them that maximises their ability and full potential in life. This is why One Nation supports a strong selective schools system in NSW. It’s critical for increasing parental choice for families with very bright children.
We oppose the attacks on the system by so-called ‘progressive’ educationalists, particularly the watering down of standards and Minister Stokes’ plan (supported by Labor) of making selective schools more “inclusive” by opening them up to local, non-selective enrolments. Stokes, in effect, is dismantling the selective school model, replacing it with a selective/comprehensive hybrid.
This Berejiklian Minister has said that government schools should not “deliberately separate children on the basis that some are gifted and talented and others are not” – more Liberal Party rhetoric drawn straight from the Teachers Federation playbook. Stokes is willing to ignore the fact that gifted students thrive on the competitiveness and challenges of selective schooling. The Minister would rather dumb down their potential and opportunities in life, driven by the political mantra of “inclusiveness”.
NSW currently has 21 fully selective schools and 25 hybrid ones (part-selective, part-comprehensive). The evidence suggests the hybrid model has not worked well. These schools tend to have confused goals, a divided culture and weak reputation. They satisfy neither their selective charter nor comprehensive component. Yet Stokes wants to create more of them.
Fully selective schooling in NSW is also under attack from within. Principals have appointed who do not support the selective ethos – an incredibly corrosive failure of school leadership. They have set about de-selectivising schools, with a sharp drop in testing, grading, homework and reporting standards. Part of this reflects a bias against the intensity of Asian learning culture.
The highest achieving selective schools have a high proportion of Asian students, supported by families who value hard work, tutoring and homework. One Nation supports this culture – further evidence of how migrant groups who work hard and aim high for their children contribute greatly to Australia’s success. These Asian families, often led by parents who are industrious small businesspeople, use the selective schools system to catapult their children into careers in medicine, science, advanced IT and engineering – a wonderful example of social achievement and mobility.
Unfortunately, migrant groups from the Middle East and Islander communities are not as well represented in NSW selective schools. They need to work harder and try to replicate the amazing success of the Asian example. The NSW Department of Education needs to do the same, instead of sending anti-Asian messages through the selective schools system.
Some principals have told Asian parents not to pursue after-school tutoring, as it puts an unnecessary workload on their children. Classwork and homework have also been dumbed down to minimise student stress and help Asians “develop stronger social skills” – a reflection of the welfare school model. Such views are an abomination. The role of selective schools should be to support Asian families in their preferred learning model, not arrogantly preach to them about Left-wing social preferences.
One Nation believes in revitalising the NSW selective school system by:
Supporting the selective school model and, where local circumstances permit, making hybrid schools fully selective.
Ensuring all staff appointed to selective schools are fully supportive of this educational ethos and approach. Selective schools must be based on the highest academic standards and a culture of student competitiveness – the reason parents send their children there in the first place.
Supporting and encouraging all families with high aspirations for their children. We reject the culturally paternalistic attitudes, aimed at Asian families in particular, that are systematically dumbing down NSW selective schools.
Making the Year 6 selective entry test fairer and more realistic by basing its questions on the Year 5-6 school curriculum. Currently the exam is more like an IQ test, for which some students pursue special tutoring. In many cases, students without the external tutoring have never seen these types of questions before.
Abandoning the Government’s plan for moving Hurlstone Agricultural High School from Glenfield to Richmond. Co-locating Hurlstone boarders on a university campus is both reckless and unnecessary. In shameful collaboration with the Western Sydney University and contrary to its election promises, the Coalition is ripping the best school out of South-West Sydney – an unbearable injustice. The $50 million saved in leaving Hurlstone at Glenfield would be better spent on permanent classroom construction in the region. The fast growing Camden electorate, for instance, has over 100 demountable classrooms, with 27 at Oran Park Public alone. Even the toilets at Oran Park are demountable.