Ongoing uncertainties irk private school principals

Ongoing uncertainties irk private school principals

For the past 10 years, school education has rarely been out of the national policy spotlight. 2018 has been no different.

Nationally significant reports that will shape future school education policy and operations were released in 2018 – these included the David Gonski-led review into Australia’s educational performance and the Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

For school leaders, translating the policy intentions of these milestone reports into action at the chalkface will be a priority in 2019.

The practical role for schools will be detailed in the new 2019-2023 National School Reform Agreement between the Australian and State Governments and their relevant state bilateral agreements.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) executive director, David Robertson, said that for Queensland’s more than 200 independent schools, school funding has and continues to be an area of major concern.

“Ongoing changes to Australia’s school funding model, particularly in recent years, has rendered it more volatile and unpredictable,” Robertson told The Educator.

He said this presents significant challenges for Queensland’s independent schools to confidently plan their future curriculum programs and staffing.

“ISQ has and will continue to invest significant time and resources into the analysis of government funding and policy changes to determine their impacts on the sector,” Robertson said.

In 2019, ISQ plans to “unpack and scrutinise” the new Parental Income Tax (PIT) measure which will be used to determine future federal funding for independent and Catholic schools from as early as 2020.

In addition, ISQ will also contribute the sector’s views to two national reviews in 2019 – these being the review of the funding loading for students with disability and the review of distribution models used by school systems to allocate federal funding.

In the midst of this, notes Robertson, Australians will go to the polls during 2019 to vote for their next Federal Government – the outcome of which could see further changes to Australia’s education system.

“Fortunately, the political and policy environment in Queensland has been more stable,” he said.

“This has enabled Queensland schools to prepare for the most significant changes to the state’s senior assessment and tertiary entrance systems in 40 years.”

Robertson said these changes include a fully updated new suite of senior syllabuses, the introduction of external assessments and replacing Queensland’s Overall Position (OP) with an ATAR.

Independent schools that offer senior programs have been restructuring their curriculum programs, timetables and staffing mixes to support the new senior program which starts with Year 11s in 2019.

“Queensland independent schools have invested significant time, planning and resources into preparing their staff, students and parents for this historic change,” Robertson said.

“Other issues that could have implications for Queensland schools in 2019 include the implementation of the recommendations of the Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce and the outcomes of the state and national reviews into NAPLAN.”