The Queensland government in Australia is considering introducing single sex state schools and some other radical educational reforms.
Performance pay for teachers, lessons outside the traditional hours of 9am to 3pm and wealthier communities to charge tuition fees for children coming from outside their catchment area are among the proposals to be considered.
"We are looking to supercharge state school education in practical ways," Education Minister, Rod Welford said.
Queensland's public school system is facing a strong challenge from the non-government sector. Private school enrolments have soared in recent years.
The Government is also under pressure to offer parents more choice and flexibility in the state school system.
Education Queensland has told stakeholders and others involved in preparing the Beyond 2010 proposals that it expects a big public reaction when they are released.
The new plan will replace the existing strategy, Destination 2010, which schools have followed for the past eight years. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has backed ideas to introduce single sex state schools across the state. She said she wanted the Queensland education system to be the best that it could be.
"I do think it's time for us to have a discussion about single sex public schools," Ms Bligh said.
"The Government wouldn't put ideas about our schools out in the public arena unless they thought they were worth pursuing and worth debating," Bligh said.
"Some parents want single sex education, why shouldn't they be able to get that in the public schooling system? I think these are important questions and I look forward to a public debate."
Bligh said the Government was in the process of developing a number of new ideas for state education and would soon start talking to the public and community.
However, Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan signalled that the Government would have a fight on its hands if it pressed ahead with some of the proposals - especially the introduction of tuition fees.
Ryan said the union was particularly opposed to fees.
"We believe state education should be free and open to everybody," he said.
"We don't want to have a situation where there is an elite system within the public system," Ryan said.
He said the QTU was also against other proposals which could see some schools having to share the one principal and it could also see no need for single-sex schools.
He said some schools already varied their hours according to local need and the union had no problem with teachers working outside traditional school hours provided they were paid appropriately.
"We are open to discussing any ideas about improving schooling over the next 10 years," Ryan stressed.
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