Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett


    New Education Act gives schools flexibility and parents more say: Minister

    5/01/2001 3:13 PM

    The new School Education Act 1999 has come into effect, marking a major milestone in the history of education in Western Australia.

    Education Minister Colin Barnett said today the Act replaced the outdated 1928 Education Act and provided for the administration of Government, non-Government and home education.

    “The 71-year-old Act is no longer appropriate to school management in the new millennium for a population well in excess of a million people and was long over-due to be replaced,” Mr Barnett said.

    “For example, it described compulsory attendance requirements in terms of children's capacity to walk three miles and teachers were expected to air classrooms during recess periods.

    “The new Act is the result of six year's work to review the old Act and its regulations and replace them with a comprehensive, modern legislative framework.

    “The magnitude of this work should not be under-estimated.

    “Following extensive public consultation through a Green Bill in 1997 and three reports concerning new regulations, discussions with the Education Department, Catholic and independent schools, the State School Teachers’ Union, the Western Australian Council of State School Organisation and principals’ associations, we now have a far-reaching, comprehensive and modern legislative framework.”

    The underlying principles of the new Act are:
    • every Western Australian child has a right to receive a school education;
    • parents have a right to choose the form of education that suits their child, whether that be Government, non-Government or home schooling;
    • parents have a responsibility to work in partnership with schools in their children’s education; and -
    • that a Government schooling system must be provided to meet the educational needs of all children.

    “The Act provides important flexibility to allow for the dynamic changes in education that will occur over the next century,” Mr Barnett said.

    “For example, its approach to attendance recognises some students spend part of their time at business or industry sites undertaking work experience, TAFE classes or other special education programs.

    “School fees have been an issue for parents and the new Act clearly stipulates contributions for primary schools will be voluntary and compulsory for secondary school.

    “Parents and school communities will also have more say in the operation of their school through the School Council, particularly in the areas of school budgets and the approval and monitoring of school charges.”

    Mr Barnett said the changes made through the new Act set in place a flexible framework for the future, allowed a number of changes in school management but would not radically change schools overnight. Rather, it would enable changes over time.

    “It will provide the avenue for schools to consider and implement change at a pace that suits their school while complying with Government and system priorities and policies,” he said.

    Media contact: Caroline Lacy on 9220 5000