The reform

Local Schools, Local Decisions is an education reform that places students at the centre of school decision making. It gives principals and their school communities a greater say over how they allocate and use their available resources to best meet the needs of their students. This means giving schools greater flexibility to make decisions about how to use the money we spend on public education. Schools manage more than 70% of the state’s public school education budget, an increase from 10% in 2013.

Schools have access to a range of resources to support their students including those available through the seven needs-based loadings allocated through the Resource Allocation Model (RAM). Principals are able to combine and use their school’s total resources flexibly to respond to the additional learning needs of all students in the school, whatever the cause.

What we have achieved so far

We have come a long way since the government launched the Local Schools, Local Decisions education reform in March 2012. This is the most significant and far reaching reform in school education in New South Wales in a century.  It is about making sure that students are placed at the centre of all decision making. It gives schools more local authority to make decisions that best meet the needs of all students, while maintaining a strong and equitable public education system.

The Local Schools, Local Decisions reform is taking place across the five interrelated areas identified as key to building a more dynamic public education system:

  • managing resources
  • staff in our schools
  • working locally
  • reducing red tape
  • making decisions.

Since 2014, NSW public schools have been funded through the needs-based Resource Allocation Model (RAM) that ensures a fair, efficient and transparent allocation of the state public education budget. Through the RAM more resources are provided to schools, with more resources allocated to schools with the greatest need. Principals are able to target resources to the needs of every student.

Since 2018 all principals had the capacity to vary the staffing combination in their school to meet their students’ needs.

Schools have more opportunities to meet their local needs by working together and combining resources within communities of schools and across the large network of schools.

Schools have authority to make local decisions about maintenance and purchasing, including the use of local tradespeople and businesses where they offer better value.

In 2015 a new approach to school planning that engages the local school community was implemented. In Term 4 2017, schools finalised their 2015-2017 planning cycle and through rigorous evaluation developed the 2018-2020 school plan. The school planning and reporting approach gives NSW public schools greater authority to meet the needs of their communities, to improve the quality of teaching in schools and outcomes for all students with one plan, one budget and one report.

These changes are enabling principals in consultation with their local school communities to decide the best way of using resources to meet the needs of their students.

Further information

The Local Schools, Local Decisions Report on the consultation

The Local Schools, Local Decisions fact sheets

Please note: We are currently in the process of updating documents to meet the department's accessibility standards. If you are having trouble accessing any content on these pages please telephone 9244 5626 or email

Staff only information

Staff can find more Local Schools Local Decisions information on our intranet.

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