Schools take business-like management approach
Business executives are sitting on South West school boards as an increasing number of the region’s educators adopt independent public school status.
The change in governance involves a school board signing a delivery and performance agreement along with the principal and Education Department, and they are also involved in an external school review during the agreement’s last year.
Education Minister Peter Collier said schools benefited from having external businesspeople involved. It meant boards could help establish a school’s financial planning, use of resources and code of conduct.
“It allows school communities, including parents, a greater say and sense of ownership in the way their school is run, ” he said.
“Strong community and industry representation ensures the board can make an even more significant contribution to the development of the school.
“Members with experience in sectors other than education can bring skills and expertise to support the school to develop a culture of continuous improvement.”
Kingston Primary School’s board includes Murray-Wellington MLA Murray Cowper and business leaders from companies including technology giant Hewlett Packard and “all have at least an indirect connection” to the school.
Principal Alan Kidd said he was keen on getting high calibre outside perspectives onto the board, which was an unpaid role.
“I want people taking me to task and questioning me, ” he said.
“The board has a role in governance but not operationally – they don’t do things but they question things.”
Mr Kidd said the board brought outside views about technology and innovation, oversaw data to ensure the school was meeting its vision and constantly challenging him.
The board’s chairman is former banker Mark Bateman, who has two children at the school and has been on the board since its founding.
“While the finance portion of our board meeting is the part when I am very active, I see that my role is to ensure that the very varied experiences of our board members are heard, considered and that healthy debate and challenge occurs with every decision, ” he said.
Mr Bateman said it was “incredibly valuable” to have industry experience on the board alongside “mothers and fathers of students, well-regarded teaching staff and an exceptionally passionate and driven principal”.
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