The 47 principals who opted into this trial were self-selected and thereby predisposed to having greater decision-making responsibility, regardless of the cost-cutting intent behind such government policies.
What hasn’t been evaluated are the reasons why many hundreds of NSW public school principals prefer to continue with the current balanced arrangements, whereby governments retain their responsibility for ensuring statewide equity in the provision of staffing, funding and resources, and school level decision making determines how these are best used to meet student needs.
The ‘evaluation’ did not ascertain the views of the hundreds of teachers and other staff whose positions may be traded-off or cashed-in for some other purpose. It did not question the impact of increased workload being devolved to schools, as governments slash jobs in regional and state offices. It did not ascertain the views of the thousands of parents whose children’s education will attract less funding under devolution policies. It did not mention, for example, that the most devolved public schools in Australia are in Victoria, where governments now spend 12% less per student than in NSW.
The 47 school trial has been padded with additional funding so schools can create additional teaching and other positions to better meet student needs. Such additional funding is of course welcomed by the Federation. Unfortunately, however, as the Boston Consulting Group’s expenditure review reported to the previous NSW Labor Government, this trial is about reducing overall funding for public schools behind the façade of increased local decision making.
Boston Consulting Group’s report can be accessed via a link on this website in the section headed “Responding to Local Schools, Local Decisions’. It makes it clear on pages 34 and 146 that this devolution trial is padded with additional funding that will be removed when the strategy is rolled out statewide.