As part of the broader strategy to reverse the residualisation of public schooling, Federation State Council has endorsed a shift from the union’s longstanding opposition to the creation of multi-campus secondary colleges.
For several decades now, governments have imposed school competition and choice policies and massively increased funding for private schools. This has undermined the comprehensive enrolment of public schools across the state and engendered a negative perception of their capacity to provide quality education for all.
As highlighted in OECD findings from the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA), such market-based government policies have caused a decline in Australia’s international performance as achievement gaps between students and schools continue to widen.
While this policy approach has had a harmful effect on public schooling across the K–12 continuum, public secondary schools have been worst affected.
While Council re-affirmed that the years 7–12, co-educational, comprehensive high school remains the most effective mode of delivery for public secondary education, it endorsed an important exception to this stance.
To support a revitalisation strategy in Port Macquarie and Lismore, Council endorsed the combining of existing public high schools into Colleges of Secondary Education. Significantly, these colleges will not repeat the mistakes of the past by creating junior campuses linked to a senior campus. The new colleges will retain the years 7–12 structure of the existing high school sites. This approach draws upon the success of Denison College, which has grown enrolments in both Bathurst High and Kelso High campuses since the establishment of the college model in 2007.
Federation also endorsed the establishment of executive principal positions in a temporary capacity, to lead and coordinate these initiatives. As well as assisting the high schools to transition to the college model, these roles will focus on building a renewed, collective effort from public primary school communities to promote public education and increase enrolments across the K–12 years.