WORKING TOGETHER: Kepnock, Bundaberg North and Bundaberg state high schools are undertaking the Independent Public Schools consultation process together.
WORKING TOGETHER: Kepnock, Bundaberg North and Bundaberg state high schools are undertaking the Independent Public Schools consultation process together. John Parker

Bundy's high schools look at going independent

BUNABERG'S three public high schools have embarked on a consultation process as they consider applying for Independent Public School status.

The Australian Government's $70 million IPS program began in 2013 with 26 Queensland schools and, when applications are determined for 2017, 250 schools state-wide will be included in the initiative.

IPS status gives schools unique opportunities for enhanced local governance, advancing innovation, locally tailored workforces, financial flexibility, building for the future as well as public accountability, transparency and performance.

The schools are granted the flexibility to advertise and select their own staff and trial innovative programs - which if they prove to be successful can be rolled out to schools across the state.

Kepnock State High School principal Jenny Maier said no decision had been made yet on whether they would apply as they were still consulting with stakeholders.

"It's very important to go through a thorough process of consultation with staff and parents and make sure this is what the community would like and from there we follow the process with the application," she said.

"We don't know yet if we'll be applying but we're putting it out there to see if there would be support.

"At this stage we're really just showing people what it is, showing them the prospectus and answering questions that people might have."

Ms Maier said the collaborative relationship between Kepnock, Bundaberg North and Bundaberg state high schools meant they were undertaking the consultation process together.

"The state high schools in Bundaberg work very closely together, we have a number of programs that we run collaboratively including the Bundaberg Regional Youth Hub and the upcoming Enterprising Futures Forum," she said.

Bundaberg's only Independent Public School - Branyan Road State School - was granted the status this year.

Principal Geoff Fitzgerald said the move had been positive and was about maximising possibilities, increasing innovation and having more autonomy at the school level.

"Instead of going through the (education) department for everything, by going through this process the department trusts us to do these things off our own back," he said.

For example, Mr Fitzgerald said, he was able part of the planning process for two new buildings at the school.

He also tailors their workforce to best suit their unique needs.

"We're a THRASS school which is a phonics program, so we can get people that already have knowledge in THRASS," he said.

IPS applications close on November 11 this year for 2017, the last chance to be part of the program. A panel of judges determines the successful schools.

IPS school are given a $50,000 establishment grant and $50,000 each year to assist with the transition to IPS and functions associated with becoming an IPS, however they remain part of the public schooling system.

With its money, Branyan Road decided to fund a second deputy principal to support its teaching staff.



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