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$13m to give greater powers to principals and school communities in Victoria



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Minister for School Education

Peter Garrett

$13m to give greater powers to principals and school communities in Victoria

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Victoria’s Government schools will receive funding to provide specialised teaching in a field of their choice, helping them to bring out the creativity, talents and potential of young people, under the first phase of the Empowering Local Schools initiative.

Minister for School Education Peter Garrett and Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon today released details of the plan, which will operate in up to 166 government schools in Victoria over the next two years.

The Gillard Government is providing more than $9 million to the Victorian Government to implement the initiative, which will support more effective local decision-making practices and processes.

Mr Dixon said the funding provided for the first phase of Empowering Local Schools will increase autonomy for government schools, helping principal and the school community make decisions in the best interest of all students.

“The Empowering Local Schools initiative will build on Victoria’s already strong history of school autonomy, allowing school leaders and teachers to better exercise the decision making powers they already have, and helping to reduce the bureaucratic burden on schools,” Mr Dixon said.

“This is about putting in place programs and initiatives which empower school leaders and teachers to engage local stakeholders, increase student engagement and achieve the best results for students at their school.”

Mr Garrett said the Gillard Government is providing $475.5 million over seven years for Empowering Local Schools, including over $64 million in funding to roll the scheme out across up to 1000 schools nationally over the next two years.

There are four key elements which will increase local decision making in Victorian schools:

• A Local Administration Bureau in Horsham, in regional Victoria, will be expanded to remove the administrative burden for the principals of small and regional schools by outsourcing functions, including financial management, human resources and other administrative processes.

• School Partnerships - Empowering Local Decision Making will create new school partnerships and cluster arrangements, using teams within schools to build school capacity, increase parental involvement, and share accountability for student learning outcomes.

• Specialisation Grants will help more schools introduce personalised learning for students in areas such as languages, maths and science, giving schools greater flexibility to respond to student and local community needs. • Supporting Professional Practice will support principals to evaluate teacher

performance and provide more effective feedback and support to teachers.

“We are doing this because we know it works. Evidence from pilot programs here and overseas suggests that when principals feel empowered and the local community is more involved, student attendance and results often improve,” Mr

Garrett said.

Mr Dixon said Victorian principals and teachers put their students at the centre of every decision they make.

“Through Empowering Local Schools, we are now able to provide school leaders and teachers with more resources, helping them get new skills to make even better decisions in the interests of their students," Mr Dixon said.

Mr Garrett said the Gillard Government was also providing more than $4 million to implement Empowering Local Schools in 51 Catholic schools and 23 independent schools in Victoria.

“While non-government schools generally have greater local decision-making powers than government schools, there are always opportunities to do things better and to ensure the community is fully engaged in local schools,” he said.

Under the initiative:

• Catholic schools will focus on activities which develop the capacity of school boards to support improved teaching and learning, increase the effectiveness of locally based funding and infrastructure decision making, and optimise local staff selection and workforce planning. • Independent schools will focus on improving schools’ capacity to make

decisions on governance, funding, infrastructure and workforce.

Each school will receive a start-up grant of between $40,000 and up to $50,000 to help implement increased and improved local decision making. The reforms will be progressively implemented from now until the end of 2013, with a second phase of the initiative expected to commence from 2015.

For more information and a list of schools taking part visit www.deewr.gov.au.

For more information

Media Contact: media@deewr.gov.au Non-media queries: 1300 363 079