Reviews of underperforming public schools have raised concerns about poor teaching, lower-than- expected results on national tests and a lack of planning for the national curriculum.
Kambalda West District High School received a scathing report from the Education Department's expert review group, which found that teaching practices in secondary classes were "mostly inappropriate and, in some cases, unacceptable". It said the Australian Curriculum had been largely neglected, "placing the school at a disadvantage compared with most schools", and access to digital technology was inadequate because the computer network was unreliable and no room had an interactive whiteboard.
Classroom behaviour that the review team witnessed when it visited in October was "appalling".
"The students' lack of respect for one another and their contempt for their teachers was palpable," the report said.
Kambalda West's new principal, Trevor Spence, said the review had prompted significant changes to the leadership team and behaviour management and he was confident the school would improve.
Nine of the 12 schools reviewed in the second half of last year reported concerns about worse-than-expected results on national literacy and numeracy tests.
When the review group visited Wembley Downs Primary School in June it found students' test standards were below the expected average in 24 of the 30 areas assessed in 2010 and 2011. "There is an abiding concern that some teachers are unwilling to be open and transparent about declining student performance and their role in this situation," it said.
Other schools in which student achievement was below expected standards included Boddington and Wagin district high schools and Somerly, Kambalda, Nulsen, Pannawonica and Upper Swan primary schools.
At Wagin, reviewers found "entrenched and ineffective leadership practices have contributed to a lack of interest in school improvement", with many students not sufficiently prepared for Years 11 and 12.
Three schools were praised for their exemplary performance: East Hamersley primary, Brookton district high and Westminster junior primary.
Education director-general Sharyn O'Neill said a critical review was often the wake-up call a school needed.
"I will always insist on investigating schools where I think children's education is being compromised," she said.