2022 was a year of consolidation and affirmation.
“I am proud that the Independent Schools Australia Board, the Chief Executive Officer, staff and members continued to adapt to the challenges of recent years, and prepare for future opportunities with increased resilience, agility and continuing professionalism.
Despite the continued disruption in 2021, 2022 has been a year where ISA has settled, whilst still in a period of transitioning into the unfolding future. The organisation has continued with rigor in its processes and services, and not only enriched its contribution to the sector and members, but is also looking to the future needs of Independent schooling and education in Australia.
The sustained, continual growth of enrolments in the Independent sector is a reflection of parents prioritising the education, care and development of their children, reinforcing the value of an Independent school education.
A nine per cent increase in student numbers in the 2020-2022 period means nearly 57,000 additional enrolments in Independent schools. This growth has persisted through the wiles of reduced migration, limited overall student population growth, and growing economic uncertainty and financial cost of living pressures, following the inconsistencies through the COVID-19 period of the past three years. The growth is testament to the continuous improvement by our school leaders, the dedication of their staff and the confidence of parents, particularly achieved through the support for schools through the state and territory Associations of Independent Schools (AISs). In another demanding year, parents have grown in their understanding of the importance of a
comprehensive well-rounded education available through Independent schools.
ISA’s work continues the long-standing, purposeful advocacy supported by rigorous data analysis and research. ISA maintains one of the richest understandings of national education policy and funding issues, which is relied upon by government ministers and their departments through the changing machinery of government election cycles. This was never more evident in the balanced advocacy achieved in the lead-up to and subsequent follow-on from the 2022 Federal Election.
With the support of member associations, ISA has consistently and vigorously continued to represent the interests of Independent schools on our 80-plus consultative committees, and in debates on topics as varied as consent education, disability standards, funding for regional schools, and transitional funding arrangements.
Our participation on representative committees in 2022 continued at greater than pre-pandemic levels, and there are many working deeply behind the scenes on key issues. I again thank the many who contribute their expertise and time to this crucial work.
ISA has also worked diligently to further strengthen the quality and effectiveness of our operational and governance functions.
One aspect that has needed (and will continue to need) careful change management for ISA is the retirement of several longstanding executive directors in several AISs over the two-year period of 2021 and 2022, including Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia. There have also been changes in three AIS board chairs.
This change is managed through careful transition and a rigorous induction process for new ISA Board directors to ensure retention of corporate knowledge and understanding of the Independent sector.
Equally, and perhaps more notable and significant for us, has been the recent notice of our highly-effective CEO who is moving into the role of CEO of AISNSW from the start of 2023. Hence, we commenced a search for a new CEO, which we are confident will lead to a significant appointment for ISA in early 2023.
I particularly wish to acknowledge and thank Margery Evans for her incredible energy and hard work in leading ISA through this period of transition in which we are operating—changes in personnel, ISA Board directors, member organisation leadership, and a change in Federal Government which potentially impacts further review of education policies in an increasing competitive environment for Federal Budget priorities.
This year we commissioned several significant pieces of research for education and the Independent sector — Prof Geoff Masters AO of the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) on reform challenges in school education, and Mark McCrindle of McCrindle Research on the social contribution of Independent schooling. The resulting reports will be released in 2023.
We have now firmly embedded, improved and regularly reviewed policies and risk, and monitor compliance systems and governance processes. Our annual ISA Board plan and a management work plan, directly align to our strategic plan. The ISA Board continues to play a valuable role in overseeing and exercising leadership in the realisation of these achievements.
A further review of the ISA Board’s operation and processes occurred in early 2022. This enabled further refinement of our management and governance working relationship, which will continue into 2023 as we consider our new strategic plan with a new CEO in place.
I continue to be encouraged by what we have achieved and the preparations being made for the opportunities that lie ahead. I would like to thank the Board Directors, and particularly our CEO and her very dedicated, skilled and able team for their commitment, wealth of knowledge and expertise.
Congratulations on a job well done.”
Mr Michael E Jones OAM JP
Roundtable discussion with the Hon Jason Clare MP at Parliament House, 17 October 2022.
Seventeen teachers and school leaders from remote, regional, metropolitan, boarding and special schools participated in the roundtable discussion. In addition, the Executive Directors and Chief Executives (or their representatives) of each state and territory Association of Independent Schools were present, together with the CEO and senior staff from Independent Schools Australia.