More QLD schools choose independence

IF IT takes a village to raise a child, Queensland principals are embracing the idea that it takes an entire community to teach a student.

From next week, 54 more state schools will begin the year as "independent public schools", taking the total across the state to 80.

There are 15 of these schools on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts plus Gympie's James Nash State High School.

For the Sunshine Coast's Greg Ferdinand - principal of Golden Beach State School - the decision to fight for independence was the easy one.

Although he remains school leader, a school council made up of community members and parents are there to guide the school's priorities.

"For Golden Beach State School, it really gave us an opportunity to explore ways to continually engage our community and look at improving learning opportunities for kids," he said.

The schools must abide by the state-set curriculum and legislation but, for example, Mr Ferdinand said his school would increase its focus on "sporting and cultural programs".

Its independent status means the school has the freedom to do negotiations with outside groups - for example, a dance school - which may want to work with Mr Ferdinand's students.

"There is more autonomy around the areas of partnership," he said.

"(Students) won't see anything directly impacting on their day-to-day life."

The 80 schools eclipsed the government's plan to have 60 operating by the start of this year.

The state now hopes to have 120 operating by 2016.

Schools received a one-off payment of $50,000 to assist with the change, and an extra $50,000 in funding each year.

Mr Ferdinand said for principals, it would "excite them as to what opportunities there might be for their schools".

He said he expected every school in the state would now be considering the idea.



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