School boards facing ‘corporate challenges’

by Robert Ballantyne14 Jun 2016

On Saturday, a line-up of expert speakers, including leading corporate governance expert, Geoff Kiel, the managing director of Board Matters and the executive chairman of Australian Development Strategies, addressed a forum of school governors and leaders in Brisbane.

Leading the agenda was a discussion around the ways in which school boards can navigate increasingly complex challenges, which are not dissimilar to those faced by small-to-medium and even large-scale corporations.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) executive director, David Robertson, who hosted the event, outlined the ways in which these challenges impact on principals – and how they can be navigated.

“School principals, like CEOs in the corporate world, not only manage a range of complex issues, such as significant budgets and workforces in ever changing regulatory and legislative environments, they are also responsible for setting the cultural tone of their organisations,” he said.

“In many ways the modern day school principal must wear even more hats than a CEO because the school principal must manage the often competing expectations of a very wide and diverse range of client groups that have a stake in schools; the school board, staff, students, parents, local communities and governments.”
 

Principals must be ‘highly attuned’ to local needs

Robertson told The Educator these challenges mean that principals must remain “ever vigilant” to compliance changes and government reform agendas.

“Principals must also be highly attuned to the local context and needs of the communities in which they operate,” he said.

“The increasing pressures from within and outside the school necessitates that the critical relationship between the school board and the principal is an open and effective one, built on shared understandings, expectations and goals,” he said.

Robertson said these shared goals, backed by a commitment to ongoing professional development, provide the “strongest foundations” for tackling any future challenges or taking advantage of any new possibilities that a school may face.

He added that ISQ has developed a comprehensive governance program for independent schools which includes specialist training, customised resources, including governance policies and handbooks.

“We have also developed a fit-for-purpose set of guiding principles on how to attain and sustain high standards of governance in a school context,” he said.

“Board members volunteer countless hours of their time to their schools and must be thanked for their leadership and commitment,” he said.
  

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