Year in Review 2021

1 April 2022

2021 was a year of change.



Two thousand and twenty one was a year of challenge and change. I am proud that the Independent Schools Australia (ISA) Board, the Chief Executive Officer, staff and members adapted so capably, creating opportinities out of the disruption and responding with resilience and professionalism.

Despite the uncertainty and disruption, 2021 has been a year where ISA has flourished.The organisation has improved the rigor of its processes and services, and enriched its contribution to the sector and members.

The growth of enrolments in the Independent sector tells us how much families value an Independent school education. The 3.1 per cent increase in student numbers in 2021 (20,000 additional enrolments), came at a time when overall student population growth was only 0.6 per cent and concern about economic security as a result of COVID-19, very real.

The growth is testament to the quality of school leaders, their staff and the education and care they offer; underpinned by the support provided through the state and territory Associations of Independent Schools (AISs). In this difficult year, I particularly want to acknowledge this achievement.
ISA’s work has always been grounded in determined and purposeful advocacy supported by rigorous data analysis and research. In 2021 we built on this endeavour to lay the groundwork for the upcoming Federal Election. With the support of member associations, ISA has consistently and vigorously represented the interests of Independent schools on 80 consultative committees and in debates on topics as varied as consent education, disability standards and regional allowances.

2021 saw our participation on representative committees increase and exceed pre-pandemic levels. I would like to thank all those who contribute their expertise and time to this crucial work.
ISA has also worked diligently to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation’s internal operations.

The establishment of the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee and the outsourcing of the management of financial services to the Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales (AISNSW), has brought greater sophistication to ISA operations. The AISNSW team are to be commended for the quality of their
service on behalf of the national body and member association colleagues.

Progress has also been made in embedding new governance arrangements — ISA’s work is clearly aligned to strategic and annual plans;
board and staff policies are in place; compliance requirements are up-to-date and monitored; and risk is actively and effectively managed. The Board has played a valuable leadership role in realising these achievements.

A review of the Board’s operation and processes was undertaken by Dr Judith MacCormick, an independent consultant, during September and October 2021. As part of her process Dr MacCormick sought feedback from each Board Director. The results of her review were affirming and positive, reflecting the changes in governance that have occurred over the last two years.

As I think back on this most unusual of years, I am encouraged by what we have achieved and what opportunities lie ahead. I would like to thank the Board Directors, and particularly our CEO and her team for their commitment, wealth of knowledge and expertise.

Congratulations on a job well done.