At the heart of this model of school is a binding, legally enforceable contract with the Crown that will require any organisation seeking to establish a school to meet specific, measurable performance goals including student academic achievement, student engagement indicators and financial, legal, health and safety and organisational performance.
A school unable to demonstrate very clearly how it will attract and retain disadvantaged learners and help them succeed, and how it will engage with their families, will not get through the rigorous authorisation process.
Think if we had that level of transparency and accountability for all schools?
They are a school of choice. No teacher will be forced to teach at one of these schools and no student will be forced to enrol in one. They will receive no more funding than the per-child amount received at a regular state school.
Some people think choice is bad. I think it is very good. And predict there will be a lot of demand in some of our most disadvantaged areas.
International evidence, notably the Credo research cited so often by opponents of Partnership Schools, has produced some conclusive findings. While results vary by state and by school, US charter schools have improved results for all students from low-income backgrounds, minority groups and those with English as a second language. Those with the best legislated models of charter school get consistently good results across the board.
In Sweden, after 21 years’ experience and data from 400 free (charter) schools and millions of students, the results are strong and clear: all students are doing better, achieving better grades and higher rates of participation in tertiary education.
Despite this evidence, some here don’t even want to give them a chance.
Partnership Schools are an opportunity for the teaching profession. The Swedish teacher unions did not oppose the introduction of free schools there, seeing them as providing good professional development opportunities for their members. Subsequent surveys have proven them right.
I wouldn’t hold your breath on expecting a similar view from the local unions here!