Local schools, Local decisions", "Gonski", and an "education reform" were buzz words that educators and parents have heard immensely before the recent Commonwealth election, however, now that there is a new Government, the future of Australian schools remains uncertain. One thing is for certain, NSW Public Schools are now part of "Local Schools, Local Decisions". So what does this mean exactly?
According to the NSW Department of Education, Local Schools, Local Decisions is an education reform that gives NSW public schools more authority to make local decisions about how best to meet the needs of their students. They further add that it teachers and principals more authority to adapt what they do and how they do it. This means giving schools greater freedom to make decisions about how to use the money we spend on public education.
According to Teacher Mrs Jane Prichard, the rhetoric of Local Schools, Local Decisions appears to be the process of devolving system responsibility under the guise of freedom and autonomy. Despite the advantages for input at a local level, the fact that cuts are being made in a time when Education funding is caught between a slow, bureaucratic custody battle between State and Federal Governments reminds us; that an adequately funded centralised system is more important than ever to ensure Public Education can deliver a world-class education and equity to every school community we serve.
According to NSW Teachers Federation Representative Mrs Kelly Campbell, Local Schools, Local Decisions is a devolution policy created by the NSW Government to shift the blame for inadequately resourced public schools. Principal's whose core role should be educational leadership are expected to become business financial managers and spend the schools budget through the RAM model which has already demonstrated flaws in its delivery.
Local Schools, Local Decisions will have an impact on education and the resources that your children are exposed to. Part of the Local Schools, Local Decisions includes a funding model that is set by parameters that determine the school "type" and the budget is controlled by the Principal. The concern is certainly not how the Principal will allocate the funds to each faculty, KLA or area of the school, but lies with the criteria that determines the school type. There are many schools that do not qualify for higher funds simply because, on paper, the school fits the model of having a sufficient number of students who do not require targeted assistance, where in reality, this is not true. We are all aware that there are students with learning difficulties that aren't medically recognised yet receive additional support from teachers but do not qualify for teachers aid or, in this case, additional financial support. This will prevent schools from hiring more support staff or resources that will benefit this group of students. The model is also unclear for those DET schools that specialise in sport, selective tests, the arts etc. It is recommended that upon enrolment, you ask how Local Schools, Local Decisions will impact this school and how it will benefit your child in their learning