The Australian Education Union’s (AEU) federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said Pyne’s $70m IPS program was “a waste of money” which had been rejected by the majority of states.
“This program has been an expensive distraction from the Abbott Government’s failure to honour the full six-years of the Gonski agreements, and one which will do nothing to improve outcomes in public schools,” Haythorpe said in a statement.
“It is no replacement for the estimated $2.7bn which will be cut from public schools if the last two years of the Gonski agreements are not fully funded.”
Haythorpe said the IPS scheme has been rejected by most states and territories because “they recognise there is no evidence” that introducing a two-tier public school system will lead to better results for students.
“NSW, Victoria, SA, Tasmania and the ACT have all accepted money from the IPS fund but will not create a single Independent Public School. These States should be commended for standing firm and rejecting a policy that has no evidence to back it,” Haythorpe said.
“NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, said that: ‘We will not be introducing charter schools or independent public schools because there is no evidence that they improve student performance’.”
Haythorpe said although NSW signed up to the IPS program, it will use the money for “ill-defined community engagement activities” and would not create any independent public schools.
“Independent Public Schools was Minister Pyne’s flagship policy, yet it has been roundly rejected. The end result is a far cry from Minister Pyne’s promise to create 1,500 Independent Public Schools by 2017, by funding schools directly,” Haythorpe said.
“With his IPS distraction out of the way, Minister Pyne needs to develop a vision to improve outcomes for public schools, beyond delivering funding cuts.
“He needs to act immediately to remedy disadvantage in schools, especially for the over 100,000 students with disability whose schools are currently getting no support funding.
“Instead he has wasted his time frittering money away on programs which will make no difference to public schools,” Haythorpe said.