Labor unveils plan to offer schools up to $100,000 in incentives
August 9, 2010
SCHOOLS will be eligible for new incentives of up to $100,000 if they can boost literacy, numeracy and attendance rates under a $388 million program that Labor will unveil today.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will try to push past the dramas of the weekend and build momentum in the critical final fortnight with a new policy pitched at the families that applauded the accountability culture encouraged by the government's MySchool
Under the new program, primary schools will be offered $75,000 if the schools improve attendance, literacy and numeracy.
High schools will be offered $100,000. The criteria for high schools will be school attendance and year 12 retention, year 12 results, and the number of students going on successfully to work, vocational training, or university study.
Parents and school principals will be given control over how to spend their incentive payments. This follows sustained criticism that the government's huge school building program was driven too rigidly by state education authorities rather than by school communities.
The new schools program Ms Gillard will unveil in Perth will offer payments to 500 campuses in 2012 - pitching Labor's campaign discussion into an area of traditional strength. Labor will promise the system will be fully operational by 2014, offering the bonuses to 1000 schools.
The budget for the program is $388 million over five years. More than $160 million will be spent over the current forward estimates.
The Prime Minister will commit to establishing an Office of National School Evaluation within the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority to oversee the new incentives system.
Assessments for the bonus payments will be done with a combination of national data and a self-assessment by individual schools. Schools must be able to demonstrate clear year-on-year improvements to have a prospect of winning incentive payments.
The combination of national and self-assessment will aim to overcome the inherent difficulties in comparing very enriched schools with highly disadvantaged schools.
Labor has aimed to capitalise on voters' perceptions that it is better for education than its Liberal opponents with several campaign pledges. Labor has also narrowed the policy difference with the Liberals in two key areas.
Last week the government neutralised the fraught political issue of funding for private schools by promising to maintain the current investment for a year longer than expected.