PRINCIPALS in Tenterfield say they are “cautiously optimistic” about the education reforms announced by the NSW government last weekend and say they will have to wait until the details come out before knowing exactly how the changes will affect their students and staff.
“The devil will be in the detail,” Tenterfield High School principal Stephen Holmes, said.
“If the cash is linked to the Gonski report, then I think Tenterfield will be in a very good position but if it is just another cost-cutter measure it is not going to be very good at all.”
On Sunday, the government launched its Local Schools, Local Decisions policy which it said would “give decision making power” back to the schools.
Under the proposed changes, local schools will be expected to manage 70 per cent of the total education budget, with principals given the management of staff and resource allocation.
Teacher salaries would also be based on the attainment of “professional standards” with the process for removing under-performing teachers to change.
Mr Holmes said many principals already had a high level of involvement in how money was spent and staffing issues.
Sir Henry Parkes Memorial Public School principal Glenn Daniels said the changes would mean an increased workload.
There was also concern about the program to retain teachers.
“There most definitely will be an increased workload but my major concern is the division of staff and paying more to keep some teachers and not others,” Mr Daniels said. “My concern is that staking that money to secure staff will take away money in the budget for other resources both in the classroom and on school grounds.
“If we can’t provide these resources then we are not providing a good education and learning environment for our students.”
Similar concerns were shared by the Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay.
“The announcement is short on detail and raises some very significant issues that have not been openly addressed,” he said.
“This model could have some advantages but at this stage no one has a clue about whether the new responsibility comes with appropriate funding and resources, not to mention financial management training and assistance for principals.”