KBates-Thm-3.jpgNPAs   1
IPS       0
The Courier-Mail ?

In a convoluted way, the front page of today’s edition of The Courier-Mail has supported the Queensland Teachers’ Union position on how school ‘autonomy’ could actually work.

The QTU has always supported the NPA program because it provides extra funding for schools, enough to employ extra staff to provide extra assistance to students according to their particular needs. The NPA program builds on schools’ capacity beyond their core needs, and has no hint of single-line budgeting. The newspaper article clearly states that the NPA program in the school mentioned had sufficient funds for “a full-time student officer, who oversaw the social wellbeing and behaviour of children, along with buying more literacy and numeracy resources”.

Compare and contrast with the LNP’s “Independent public schools” (IPS) policy. It proposes single-line budgeting to cover every school expense, from staffing to resources to grounds maintenance. It proposes that core school staff are directly hired by the school, leading inevitably to pressure on principals to sacrifice more expensive experienced teachers for cheaper beginning teachers in order to balance the very tight books. It offers the paltry amount of “up to $50,000” in additional funds to allegedly cover the costs of full autonomy, certainly not enough to employ full-time specialist or administrative staff (compared with the NPA funding of $800 per student which equals $400,000 for 500 students).

In short, the message is clear (when the reader gets past the headline): NPAs – good. IPS – bad.

Kevin Bates
QTU President
1 March 2012