Keiraville Public School principal David O'Connor has more insight than most into exactly how the NSW Government's education reforms will affect schools.
As principal at Towradgi Public School last year, his school was one of just 47 to be involved in a two-year pilot giving principals more control over their budgets and staffing decisions.
The results of the pilot were used to feed into the State Government's Local Schools, Local Decisions policies announced on Sunday.
Mr O'Connor said the Towradgi pilot was "overwhelmingly positive" and he has now put up his hand for his new school to be included in the first phase of the Government's education reforms.
Two weeks ago, before the NSW schools overhaul was announced, the Federal Government asked schools to submit expressions of interest to its Empowering Local Schools scheme, which will give principals more control over staffing and budget decisions.
The 229 schools who are successful in applying for the program will share in $12.5 million and essentially be the first to receive the State Government's education reforms next year.
Mr O'Connor rushed to submit an application to the program before last Friday's cut-off because of his experience with the pilot and said, if successful, he would use more budget flexibility at Keiraville to train and mentor teachers.
At Towradgi, the pilot allowed Mr O'Connor to choose a mix of staff that suited his school rather than having teachers allocated by the education department's centralised formula that changes based on student numbers.
By cost-saving in other areas, he employed an extra teacher for three to four days each year, allocated a learning support teacher to work a number of days at the school and gave two classroom teachers time off class to take up leadership and mentoring positions.
This allowed the school to improve kindergarten literacy results and introduce an innovative iPad learning program now seen as a best-practice model for schools in the Illawarra.
While he said he would exercise caution as the Government rolled out its new plans, he hoped other principals and teachers would approach the changes with an open mind.
"Philosophically it makes sense that people who know their school and students the best make those important decisions about the direction of their learning," he said.
He said the initial response from Keiraville Public School had been positive and that 17 out of 18 teachers at the school had supported a move towards more autonomy.