School Autonomy


Recently I heard Jim Spinks speak on school autonomy.

He described autonomy as a moving beast for it means different things depending upon where you are in Australia or around the world and what is politically happening at the time. He talked about how new governments tend to provide more autonomy to schools but the centre over time tends to claw back power. Has this happened recently?

What for me was interesting was that Victoria has one of the most autonomous public school systems in the world. Our budgets include 95% of the costs of running schools – including staff salaries. He made the point that staff salaries in Victoria and in Britain are not averaged – that is you pay the exact amount – so it does matter who you hire from a financial management perspective – its possible to go into the red so to speak (and you pay it back from your cash allotment).

I and my school board know this because for many years we were running a deficit salary budget which we had to pay back in one very tight year (with a few larger class sizes to boot). For the first time in over 10 years we are now in the black and I’m running a budget, because of my inexperienced staffing profile, that will enables us to fund lower than funded class sizes.

noted that our financial planning tools are the envy of most systems around the world.

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