State and Territory Education Ministers have  agreed to participate in Phase One of the Australian Government’s Empowering Local Schools initiative, subject to the successful negotiation of a National Partnership and bilateral implementation plans with States and Territories and funding agreements with non-government education authorities.


The agreement was reached at this month’s final meeting of the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) in Melbourne.


The Empowering Local Schools initiative aims to deliver greater local autonomy to more schools to enable them to better respond to local school community needs and provide services to ensure their students achieve the best educational outcomes.


Phase One will involve 1,000 schools across 2012 and 2013 and will focus primarily on strengthening local school decision-making in the areas of workforce, governance, funding and infrastructure.


The Australian Government announced in this year’s budget funding of $484 million by 2018 to rollout these reforms, including $71.9 million over the forward estimates.

Participating schools will receive a start up grant of between $40,000 and $50,000, as well as support and training. In total, $47.3 million over the next four years will be provided to schools in start-up funding.

The Australian Government will also provide $17.7 million over the next four years to school systems – government and non-government – to support the transition.

An additional $6.9 million will fund implementation, including the development of a specific training course for principals on leading and managing a more autonomous school, the development of innovative governance models and a longitudinal evaluation.


Ministers also noted the Australian Government’s intention to take a phased approach to the National Trade Cadetship initiative and to form an Advisory Panel to provide advice on its implementation. The National Trade Cadetship initiative will provide for greater consistency in the delivery of trade training in schools across Australia and a clearly defined pathway through school and into a further study, work or a career in the trades.


Ministers also agreed that development of a National School Improvement Framework commence as part of the Australian Government’s Rewards for School Improvement initiative. Ministers asked senior officials to oversee development of the Framework, including the establishment of a Steering Group to inform this development work.