The Coalition has declared it's vision for public schools is that they be more like independent schools and it plans to transform about a quarter of the nation's schools by giving them far greater autonomy.
The largest new spending measure and signature education policy of the Coalition, released on Thursday, is $70 million for an Independent Public Schools Fund, which will be used to help 1500 schools become independent by 2017.
The policy is highly influenced by the independent state schools model in Western Australia, where more than 250 schools remain publicly funded but have greater control over their finances and principals had greater autonomy over staffing. They cannot charge mandatory fees but have school boards.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott reiterated his pledge that there would be no real difference between the major parties on school funding. The Coalition ditched its fervent opposition to the reforms known as Gonski and agreed to deliver the same federal funding over the next four years.
However, there was no guarantee for the final two years of the existing six-year agreements signed by some states, including NSW and Victoria. The bulk of the money - about $3 billion of the total $5 billion promised for NSW schools - was set to flow in the last two years of the six-year deals.
Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said the Coalition had decided to match Labor's deal because it didn't want the debate to be preoccupied with funding, and wanted to move it to a ''higher plane''.
''We want more characteristics from the non-government sector in the government sector,'' Mr Pyne said.
Australian Education Union federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said the Coalition's education policy was disappointing. He said the Coalition had committed to a third of the federal funding that Labor had offered under the reforms.
''It is completely dishonest for Tony Abbott to claim the Coalition has matched the Labor government Gonski funding commitment,'' he said.
Mr Gavrielatos said the Coalition's four-year funding policy would deliver at least $7 billion less than Labor's deal.
Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching said the Coalition's policy had raised concerns that councils would wield too much power at independent state schools.
He said state school councils, which include parents, should not be allowed to hire and sack principals. ''It will create all sorts of conflicts of interest.''
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli had already said he was not interested in importing the WA model as there was no evidence it improved student outcomes.
The Coalition would also review the national curriculum, place a ''new emphasis'' on teacher quality and develop ''best practice guidelines to improve admission standards into teaching courses''.
It promised to deliver NAPLAN results within 12 weeks compared with the current turnaround time of almost five months.