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What is an Independent Public School?

What is an Independent Public School and what does an IPS mean for my children?

One of the hardest and most important decisions we make as parents is where we should send our children for their education. We spoke to Dave Bosworth of Earnshaw P-12 State College to give us the lowdown on the government’s new Independent Public Schools and what that means for Brisbane parents and students.

The Independent Public Schools Initiative

Over the last few years, the Queensland Government has been allowing certain state schools to become independent public schools. The Independent Public Schools initiative recognises that the best decision-making often occurs at a local level, enabling direct response to local community needs and aspirations.  By becoming an Independent Public School, the Principal and community of that school have greater control and ownership over their school and their destiny.

The Independent Public School initiative allows independent schools opportunities to:

  • Enhance local governance,
  • Advance innovation,
  • Tailor a workforce to meet their needs.
  • Create financial flexibility,
  • Build for the future, and
  • Be publically accountable, transparent and performance-based.

Independent Public School are afforded greater freedom

Independent Public School are afforded greater freedom to shape their strategic direction and to make research-based decisions which will directly benefit their students. They have the ability to work closely with local business, industry and community organisations.

This new way of working will lead to unique and innovative partnerships and sponsorships, providing additional opportunities for the students of, and the local community around, independent schools. These schools also have greater flexibility to tailor the delivery of, and access to, curriculum to more effectively meet the needs of our 21st century students.

An important aspect of operating as an Independent Public School is the establishment of a “School Council”. The council is often comprised of the Principal, some teachers, parents, local business members, and other interested and engaged community members.

Independent Public Schools choose their council to reflect the key goals and aspirations of their school, and as such the council is charged with playing an integral role in leading the school into the future. This is another way in which the school can respond to the needs of its local community and diverse student body.

General roles of the school council include

While different independent schools will prioritise different goals for their council, general roles of the school council include:

  • Debate innovative approaches to teaching and learning and consider research-based avenues for enhancing students’ school experience;
  • Approve strategic plans, including performance targets and strategies that set the future direction of the college;
  • Approve other strategic documents such as those relating to college revenue and expenditure;
  • Advise the college principal about strategic matters.

Being an independent public school allows enhanced freedom for administrators and educators, which results in a school that can better respond to the unique potential of its students and community. Independent schools are free to directly recruit staff and build a team who fit, support, and enact their strategic direction and drive innovation.

They also have greater autonomy to manage and maximise infrastructure, financial resources and human resources to advance innovation and respond to research. When considering the learning needs of their students, Independent Public Schools have increased flexibility to shape curriculum offerings that respond to these needs and reflect contemporary research on how students learn. All of these things enhance the possibility of delivering innovative educational practices that maximise outcomes for students.

List of IPS schools in Brisbane

This article was published in Issue 14 of our print magazine, February/March 2016.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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