All Western Australian public schools will be invited to become part of the State Government’s Independent Public Schools initiative with the introduction of a new selection process.


Announcing the next phase in the evolution of the initiative, Education Minister Peter Collier said the new approach would allow school communities wanting to become independent to undergo a development program and be given extensive support to help them meet the high selection standards.


“Later this year, I will be extending an invitation to become independent to the two-thirds of WA public schools yet to do so.  Any school community that wishes to become an Independent Public School will then take part in an extensive development program, starting in 2014, designed to help them operate with increased autonomy and heightened accountability,” Mr Collier said.


“The changes allow for the continued expansion by the Liberal-National Government of the initiative while at the same time maintaining two vital aspects of its success - rigour and choice. This new approach is uniquely different from previous years as we focus on investing more time in preparing schools to become eligible for selection as Independent Public Schools.”


The Minister said schools selected following the development program would then have access to a comprehensive transition program leading up to them starting as Independent Public Schools.


This year, 255 schools - one-third of all WA public schools - are operating with more autonomy and accountability, following a stringent application and selection process.


“There is still a full range of schools - primary, secondary, education support, remote, rural, big and small - that are not operating as Independent Public Schools,” Mr Collier said.


“This new approach will give schools that have missed out on selection in previous years, and those that have not applied because of concerns about whether they are ready to benefit, the opportunity to learn more about how they might use the flexibilities to best meet the needs of their students.”


The new process will maintain the current high selection standards and Independent Public School principals will be involved in the selection process.


“These principals understand the demands of leading schools with greater autonomy and heightened accountability and will add their expertise to the process,” the Minister said.


The selection criteria will be the same as in previous years - capacity of the school to assume greater responsibility for its own affairs; level of local support, including staff support; and clearly articulated benefits to students and the broader school community.


“Every Independent Public School I have visited as Education Minister has demonstrated how beneficial this initiative is for children’s education,” Mr Collier said.


A formal evaluation by The University of Melbourne is due in April and will help inform and shape the future of the Independent Public Schools initiative.


“I am delighted to be leading this exciting new approach to the State Government’s biggest education reform in decades,” the Minister said.