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NSW public schools to face random audits, assessments

"This is not about closing down schools, the point is schools will be given the opportunity to fix problems,": Adrian Piccoli.

"This is not about closing down schools, the point is schools will be given the opportunity to fix problems,": Adrian Piccoli. Photo: AFR

For the first time, the state's public schools will face random audits and will have to meet the same standards as private schools to ensure staff are qualified, buildings are maintained and the curriculum is being delivered.

In order to operate, private and Catholic schools are required to be registered with the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards but until now, public schools have only had to answer to the Department of Education. NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli will introduce legislation this week which will mean public schools will also have to be independently assessed by the Board of Studies and will undergo random audits.

Mr Piccoli said all schools in NSW, private and public, ''should be on the same footing''.

''This is not about closing down schools, the point is schools will be given the opportunity to fix problems,'' he said.

"As Minister for Education for all NSW schools, it makes sense that the same standards are met by all schools in NSW.''

Mr Piccoli said it was also not about targeting principals.

''Principals can be sacked now, so this doesn't change that, this is about external validation,'' Mr Piccoli said.

The audits would be checking for such things as classrooms being fire compliant, all staff having appropriate university qualifications and working with children checks and the maintenance of enrolment registers.

Audits would also check that schools were recording student achievement and keeping up-to-date attendance records. He said the checks would also ensure that schools were operating within their development approval.

''One example would be an independent school which had 2000 students but only had DA approval for 1500 … they had to fix that and that's the sort of thing we would be looking at with public schools,'' Mr Piccoli said.

The new registration process would not be ''burdensome'' for public schools but the ''external validation'' process would ensure they met the same standards as independent schools are required to meet.

NSW public schools will need to comply with the same requirements as non-government schools by the end of next year.

The acting president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Gary Zadkovich, said there had been no consultation.

''We don't have any of the details of the changes made by the minister,'' Mr Zadkovich said.

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