Report suggests Independent Public Schools have no benefits over other schooling

Stock image.
Stock image.

A REPORT into Independent Public Schools (IPS) has found there are no discernible effects on the outcomes of students compared to their non-IPS counterparts.

Tabled in State Parliament this month by the Education and Health Standing Committee, the report titled IPS Report Card: The Report of the Inquiry into the Independent Public Schools initiative found no obvious relationship between school autonomy and student outcomes.

Education Minister Peter Collier dismissed the findings as “naive in the extreme” citing WA schools’ recent performance in NAPLAN.

“We’ve had the best improvement in NAPLAN results in the nation,” he said.

Locally, Rossmoyne, Lynwood and Willetton Senior High Schools are IPS schools.

Addressing findings Department of Education had rolled out the program to high performing schools first to increase the likelihood the initiative, Mr Collier said the initial IPS school had outperformed non-IPS schools.

“The preliminary results show that the 34 schools that were chosen first in 2010 have done (well)… in fact they have outstripped non IPS schools,” Mr Collier said.

He said the WA public were choosing IPS schools over private schools and non-IPS schools, and schools were actively seeking independence.

“As far as IPS is concerned I have never had one school in the almost 600 I have visited want to go back to being a non-IPS school (while) I’ve had a plethora of schools wanting to be IPS,” Mr Collier said.

Cannington MLA Bill Johnston said parents wanting more say in their school should not come at a cost of government involvement.

He said while six years was a small sample, states such as Victoria that had long had IPS schools also showed IPS did not mean automatic excellence in education.

“All research shows IPS itself doesn’t address student outcomes,” he said.

Mr Johnston said the WA IPS model could leave advanced maths and sciences vulnerable within some institutions and urged the State Government to ensure the subjects were available for aspiring engineer’s at all state schools.

“There is a fundamental need that advanced maths and sciences are available and IPS doesn’t do that, only the management by government would do that,” he said.

Mr Collier said the standing committee had not done their homework, but stopped short of rejecting the reports recommendations.

“I’ve had a look at the recommendations and I’ll give it due consideration obviously,” he said.

“I’m not for a moment arrogant enough to suggest it’s perfect, we’ll always look to improve the Independent Public School system always.”

“But what I can say is you do not have virtually every public school in Western Australia desperate to become an Independent Public School if it’s not working.”