Deakin course to give Queensland principals and school managers business skills

27 March 2014

Queensland school leaders will focus on the business end of running a school at a special course, believed to be the first of its type to run in Australia, being run by Deakin University in Brisbane –-  today and tomorrow. (Thursday and Friday, March 27 and 28)

Course organiser and author of the book Above and Beyond the Bottom Line - The extraordinary evolution of the education business manager, Professor Karen Starr, said the course was being driven by the Queensland Education Leadership Institute (QUELI).

"Deakin University is currently developing a Graduate Certificate in Education Business Leadership to be offered in 2015, but the Queensland Government is keen for all principals and business managers in the state's schools to receive training in the business side of running a school now, so we developed the course specifically for them," Professor Starr said.

"The money from the Gonski reforms has gone direct to the schools and they will have autonomy in how it is used."

Professor Starr said the workshop would be led by Deakin staff, including herself, the Faculty of Arts and Education's business manager Matt McDonough and visiting US specialist Associate Professor Craig Schilling.

Associate Professor Schilling is the co-author of the book, Resource Management for School Administrators, which looks at the strategies and skills school business leaders need to meet government, parental and community expectations.

"Business is a dirty word in education," Professor Starr explained.

"But more and more you find that what you are running is a large business."

Professor Starr said many of the jobs done in the schools require specific business skills and that one of the most valuable assets was the assistance of a school business manager. 

"It is important that schools have access to business expertise as they become increasingly autonomous," she said.

"School business managers and principals have to manage budgets, employment issues, marketing, facilities and business planning, yet these have not been seen as a particular skill set with a body of knowledge of its own," she said.

"The complex nature of running a school means that principals, business managers and school councils require astute business skills.

"They are responsible for the school's strategic plan, the school's business plan and are expected to match these with government imperatives regarding learning outcomes, all of which influences allocation of funding."

Professor Starr said governance was also a hot issue for schools and there were well publicised cases in Victoria where schools had gone into receivership or had closed as a result of mismanagement.

"School council members cannot be enthusiastic amateurs," she said.

"Like directors of public companies, they are responsible and liable for the stewardship of the school."


Media contact

Sandra Kingston
Media and Corporate Communications
03 9246 8221, 0422 005 485
Email Sandra

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