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A history of supporting parent choice in education

The peak body representing Queensland’s more than 200 independent schools is today, 18 July, celebrating 50 years of dedicated advocacy and service to the sector.

The Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network congratulates and thanks Independent Schools Queensland for its unwavering advocacy for independent schools and the right of all parents to school choice.

QIS Parents Network Executive Officer Sue Kloeden said: “ISQ works collaboratively and consultatively, not only with the QIS Parents Network, but also with the broader education sector. Indeed, Queensland’s three schooling sectors have a long history of working closely together. This cross-sector collaboration is highly valued, as is ISQ’s presence as a respected, thoughtful, steadfast and proficient contributor.”

A History of Advocacy

Fifty years ago, on 18 July 1968, records show 29 representatives from 27 independent secondary schools attended a meeting at Brisbane Grammar School and voted unanimously to form the original Association of Independent Secondary Schools of Queensland (AISSQ). Shortly after, the Association changed its name and expanded its membership to include primary schools.

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson paid tribute to the pioneering headmasters and headmistresses who recognised the importance of establishing an association that united independent schools and allowed them to speak with one voice on matters of importance to the sector.

“Records from those early years reveal the passion and conviction of member schools and their respected leaders to student learning, a robust and inclusive curriculum, fair funding, school autonomy and ongoing leadership and teacher professional development,” he said.

Celebrating Independent Schools

Mr Robertson said the 50-year anniversary provided a fitting opportunity to reflect on the contribution of the organisation, its Board, staff, and member schools to education in Queensland.

“The strength of the independent schooling sector lies in both the longevity and diversity of its member schools,” he said.

“Some of the sector’s longest running grammar schools have been educating students for more than 150 years, while some of the sector’s newest entrants include small schools specialising in the education of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or vulnerable young people who have disengaged from mainstream education.”

Supporting Parent Choice

Over the past 50 years Queensland’s independent schooling sector has experienced the greatest rate of growth of any sector with increasing numbers of parents exercising their right to school choice.

Enrolments in independent schools increased by 740 percent between 1968 and 2018, from just over 14,000 students to more than 120,000 today. The sector now educates about 15 percent of all Queensland school-age children, up from about 4 percent in 1968.

ISQ has created a microsite, www.isq50.com, and published a commemorative book that recounts ISQ’s history within a period of major policy and social change and celebrates the contribution of member schools to Queensland education.

The book features messages of congratulations from Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace and Federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham.

Ms Grace said ISQ played a “very important role” in Queensland’s education sector and was a “fierce advocate for its member schools, staff and students”.

Mr Birmingham commended “the leadership brought by ISQ and the independent sector”, saying ISQ “can be proud of its work to support educational excellence in its schools alongside equity of access”.

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