No love for Abbott’s ‘pet project’

Public school advocate group Save Our Schools (SOS) has called for public consultation and scrutiny over the Federal Government’s proposed Pathways in Technology Early College (P-TECH) proposal for Ballarat and Geelong.

IBM – the company that developed the college – says it is taking “responsibility” for the Ballarat school and will support the Geelong school.

An SOS policy brief released today examined the experience with P-TECH schools in the US and concluded there were several reasons to be concerned about their introduction in Australia.

SOS national convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said the viability of P-TECH schools is not just unproven but threatens public education.

 “It should not be rushed through because it is Tony Abbott’s pet project. It is yet another ‘captain’s call’ by the Prime Minister that has not received adequate public scrutiny,” Cobbold said in a statement.

“P-TECH schools are being established without any evidence that they work and without any open discussion of their implications for the curriculum, how public schools are governed and how education is delivered in the classroom.”

Cobbold pointed to the “incompatibility” of the project with certain provisions of Victoria’s existing education system.

“IBM says that the new schools will replicate its New York model but it appears to be incompatible with the provisions of the Victorian Education and Training Act relating to school councils and curriculum development and accreditation and with the national curriculum for Years 9-10.”

Last year, the Federal Government announced $500,000 in funding for a new type of school in Australia which incorporated secondary education with two years of tertiary training.

The P-TECH model received a strong personal endorsement from Tony Abbott following his visit last year to the Brooklyn school where the project was founded.