The evidence shows, and overseas experience highlights, that increasing school autonomy can help lift student outcomes and help schools better meet the needs of local communities.
The Australian Government is responding to the growing demand for greater school autonomy and flexibility with its $70 million Independent Public Schools initiative, which builds on current developments across the states to help schools become more autonomous and independent if they so choose.
With training provided for school leaders, parents and community members, schools will be better placed to respond to the needs of their students and to increase the involvement of parents and community groups in the life and operations of the school.
Under this initiative, selected government schools in participating states and territories will move towards greater autonomy and encourage increased parent and community involvement.
State and territory overview
Under the Independent Public Schools initiative, states and territories have the flexibility to implement the programmes, activities and initiatives that best suit the specific needs of their schools and students.
Under the Independent Public Schools initiative, over 440 Western Australian government schools are set to benefit from new activities that complement and build on the state’s existing Independent Public Schools programme. Western Australia will receive $8.05 million in funding from the Australian Government.
The funding in Western Australia will be used for Independent Public Schools activities including a:
- Leadership Programme for school principals using action-learning and peer collaboration to build the capacity of Independent Public Schools principals in an autonomous school environment
- Governance Programme that will train members of selected School Boards with the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfil their roles more effectively.
Tasmania’s new Community Empowered Schools program will be funded from the Australian Government’s Independent Public Schools initiative.
Tasmania will implement the program with the $2.1 million in Australian Government funding it will receive from the Independent Public Schools initiative. The program aims to increase parental and community involvement in school decision making.
Participating school communities are set to benefit from:
- the development of training programs for parents, community members, school principals and teachers and
- resources and tools to promote parent and community engagement in school life and school decision making.
The Community Empowered Schools program is set to benefit 120 Tasmanian school communities.
Under the Independent Public Schools initiative, Victoria will receive $15.89 million to help principals, school leaders and school communities take full advantage of the autonomy granted to them in the Victorian government school sector.
All of Victoria’s 1,526 government schools are expected to benefit from at least one of the activities that will be implemented through the initiative. These activities include:
- leadership and management training for school leaders
- capacity building for school councils and support to take on extra powers
- expanded administrative support for principals of small schools
- support for federated school governance models to assist small schools.
School leaders will benefit from professional development, and specific activities will target small and regional schools to ensure they also have support to enhance their independence.
The funding will also support Victoria’s reforms to school governance, including those recently announced under Professional Practice and Performance for Improved Learning: School Governance.
Queensland government schools are set to benefit from increased local autonomy through funding from the Australian Government’s $70 million Independent Public Schools (IPS) initiative.
Australian Government funding of $12.88 million will expand the roll out of Queensland’s Independent Public Schools program.
With this funding, by 2017 an additional 130 schools will join the 80 public schools that already have independent status in the state.
Participating school communities will benefit from professional development that will:
- build the capability of school leaders to manage the transition to greater autonomy and enhance innovation and change leadership skills
- meet the unique needs of schools in rural and remote areas
- strengthen principal leadership in school governance and develop school council decision making and accountability.
A new online budgeting system will also be developed to support more autonomous school budgeting.
It is expected that all 1,233 Queensland government schools will benefit from this professional development and budgeting support over time.
Under the Independent Public Schools initiative, the Australian Government will invest $1.61 million to help establish the Northern Territory’s first Independent Public Schools and increase local decision making in all government schools.
School communities are expected to benefit from:
- professional development for all schools to manage school finances and staffing
- a suite of tools for budget and staff planning, and monitoring and reporting performance
- assistance for schools to identify their readiness to begin operating as an Independent Public School
- grants of up to $50, 000 for selected schools to help them prepare to operate as an Independent Public School.
Up to 15 Northern Territory government schools could become Independent Public Schools by 2017.
Under the Australian Government’s Independent Public Schools initiative, South Australian government school principals and school governing school councils will have more support to operate autonomously.
South Australia will receive $5.53 million to introduce a performance management initiative for principals to manage underperformance. This initiative will be piloted in up to 225 school communities before being rolled out to all government schools.
The funding will also pay for training up to 225 school governing councils on strategies to increase parental engagement.
Australian Capital Territory
All 86 government schools in the Australian Capital Territory will benefit from close to $1 million in funding under the Australian Government’s Independent Public Schools initiative.
The funding will provide professional development and training for school governing bodies, principals and school leadership teams to help them make decisions in partnership with their own school community.
Having the freedom to operate more independently will allow ACT government schools to better meet the needs of their students.
New South Wales
Under the Independent Public Schools initiative all 2226 New South Wales government schools are set to benefit from increased local decision making. Between 2014 and 2017, New South Wales will receive $22.75 million from the Australian Government.
The funding in NSW will be used for several activities, including:
enhancing and increasing community engagement in local decision-making reforms under the state’s Local Schools, Local Decisions initiative
developing materials, training programmes and resources to support schools to undertake community engagement appropriate to their local context
funding every public school in NSW to provide them with the resources to undertake community engagement activities that would not have otherwise been available to them
supporting schools through Principals School Leadership who will work collaboratively with principals to build leadership capacity to support the development of community engagement activities.
- Independent Public Schools — What it means for parents and carers fact sheet
- Independent Public Schools — Giving schools more choice fact sheet
- Project Agreements signed by participating states and territories and the Australian Government are published on the Council on Federal Financial Relations website on the National Partnerships – Education page.