The start of this school year marked the beginning of a new era for 54 of Queensland’s new Independent Public Schools.

The Newman Government’s recent announcement of its $70 million Independent Public Schools initiative will have 1500 existing public schools become independent by 2017.

Minister for Education, Training & Employment John-Paul Langbroek says there are currently 80 Independent Public Schools in Queensland, with 54 new additions as of this year.

Mr Langbroek says the schools are already enjoying a greater say in how their schools are run as they have more freedom to decide their direction and make decisions that benefit local students and communities.

“They are forging a new path with increased autonomy to recruit teachers, manage resources and tailor their curriculum to the needs of their students.

“We continue to have an overwhelming number of applications to become an Independent Public School.

Mr Langbroek says the first 26 Independent Public Schools have enjoyed increased autonomy since January last year and will now be able to have greater input from parents, teachers and community members.

“Research shows that autonomy can improve school performance and student outcomes.

“By cutting red tape and removing layers of bureaucracy, school communities are empowered to make more decisions that impact directly on students’ learning.

“For example, some of the first group have strengthened academic, music and sporting programs through increased flexibility with staffing and curriculum. Others are involved in partnership arrangements with other educational institutions, or are developing cultural relationships to support language programs,” he says.

Mr Langbroek says the new Independent Public Schools included primary schools, high schools, Academies, P-12 schools and special schools.

Executive Principal of Mountain Creek State High School Cheryl McMahon says that being an Independent Public School had addressed local needs.

“We certainly see a greater flexibility to be able to use the funds in the school to be able to provide resources and facilities that best suits the needs of our students. It’s certainly been a positive move for us,” Ms McMahon says.

Mr Langbroek says the schools received a one-off payment of $50,000 to assist with the transition, and an extra $50,000 in funding each year.

The quick facts:

What does it mean? The Independent Public School initiative will provide opportunities for:
• enhanced local governance 
• advancing innovation
• locally-tailored workforce
• financial flexibility
• building for the future
• public accountability, transparency and performance
What will it mean for students?
• Greater freedom to shape their own strategic direction and make decisions which will directly benefit their students.
• Increased ability to work directly with local businesses, industry and community organisations.
• Possible creation of unique and innovative partnerships and sponsorships, providing extra support for students, schools and the local community.
• Greater flexibility to tailor the curriculum to directly suit the needs of their students.
• This tailor-made approach will mean students may benefit from opportunities such as International Baccalaureate, extracurricular and gateway programs or access to centres of excellence.
What are your thoughts on the increasing number of schools becoming independent?