Independent Public Schools report a greater sense of empowerment, energy and motivation in their school communities, a university evaluation has found.

The University of Melbourne has found positive benefits in its investigation of 255 schools signed up to Western Australia’s Independent Public Schools Initiative.

The evaluation drew together information from a number of sources including case studies of 13 Independent Public Schools, surveys of principals of public schools, interviews with unions, principals’ associations and the peak parents’ body, as well as relevant literature.

Researchers found that principals of Independent Public Schools believe the greater autonomy puts them on a path to improve performance outcomes, create more benefits for students and school communities, and improve the way their schools function. Importantly, it was found that over time the initiative is creating a strong platform for enhanced student achievement, behaviour and attendance.

Researchers were not without their concerns however, they highlighted the possible inadvertent formation of a ‘two-tiered’ public school system as detrimental to the Initiative.

WA’s Minister for Education Peter Collier said the evaluation would help inform and shape the future of the initiative; “I am looking forward to leading the next phase of this initiative where all Western Australian public schools will be offered the opportunity to be part of a development program starting in 2014. This will build their readiness to become Independent Public Schools in the future.”

The full report is available online.