Q&As

The following are answers to questions the PMSA has been asked following recent issues which have caused concern in the community. The PMSA provides the following answers to help people understand the current situation and issues and clarify some misinformation that has been circulated.

If you have a question you would like answered, please email communications@pmsa-schools.edu.au.

Governance

What is the PMSA doing to improve governance?
Who owns the four PMSA schools?
What’s the difference between the PMSA Council and each School Council?
How are the PMSA Councillors appointed?
How are the School Councillors appointed?
Do PMSA Councillors receive lifetime annuities and other financial benefits for their service?
Does the PMSA plan to merge the schools to make one single entity?
What reporting does the PMSA do?

  1.  
  2. Chesterman Process

Will the PMSA release the report from the Chesterman facilitation process?

Financial Management

Why am I not able to obtain an individual PMSA school’s financial statements?
Do school fees from one PMSA school help support other PMSA schools?
Do donations to any of the school’s Foundations go to the PMSA?
Where do parent donations to the School’s voluntary building levy go?
Is cash flow a problem for the PMSA and how will loan agreements be fulfilled?
Do the Churches need to provide a guarantee for PMSA loans?
Is the PMSA going to sell-off historic school grounds at Clayfield College, Somerville House and Brisbane Boys’ College?
Has $1.2 million in Clayfield College Government Funding been used for Oxley land / golf course and Grammar Early Learning?
Is Clayfield College ‘on the brink of debt’?

School Procedures

Did the PMSA hold forums in 2017?

  1.  

What is the PMSA doing to improve governance?

The PMSA has engaged the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) to undertake a governance review. We believe this review is one of the positive steps the PMSA is taking to improve our governance, increase our transparency and build confidence with our school community. Although the PMSA has undertaken governance reviews in the past, this is the first review that seeks stakeholder feedback. For more information on the governance review process, please visit the Governance Review page.

Who owns the four PMSA schools?

The PMSA owns the four schools – Brisbane Boys’ College, Clayfield College, Somerville House and Sunshine Coast Grammar School. The PMSA was established by and is a joint mission of the Uniting Church of Australia Queensland Synod and the Presbyterian Church of Queensland to own and operate schools built on strong Christian foundations. The PMSA was established as a Body Corporate in 1918 by Letters Patent under ‘The Religious Educational and Charitable Institutions Act of 1861 of the State of Queensland’.

What is the difference between the PMSA Council and each of the School Councils?

The PMSA Council is the Board of Directors and the overarching governing body for each of the four schools. The Council has overall financial and legal responsibility of the PMSA and PMSA schools. Each School Council is responsible for overseeing the operations of their relevant schools. 

The PMSA Council’s role includes (but is not limited to) determining, reviewing and maintaining the vision of the PMSA; approving strategies, annual budgets, and expenditure; appointing Principals, School Chaplains and School Councillors; overseeing organisational risk and checking financial and non-financial reports; and undertaking other monitoring and activities to ensure the organisation is properly managed.

The PMSA Council delegates the responsibility for the administration and performance of each school to the School Councils which are committees of the PMSA Council. The School Principals report to these School Councils and have operational responsibility for the schools. Some of the delegated duties of the School Councils include (but are not limited to) ensuring the operation, maintenance and development of the school; implementing the PMSA strategic plan in the context of the school’s own strategic plan; and investing money.

For more information on the PMSA Council and School Councils, please visit the PMSA Organisational Structure page.

How are the PMSA Councillors appointed?

The PMSA Councillors or Board of Directors comprises up to 15 Councillors. The PMSA Constitution provides that up to six Councillors are appointed by the Presbyterian Church and up to six Councillors are appointed by the Uniting Church. Up to three Councillors are also appointed directly by the PMSA Council. All PMSA Councillors must be members of either the Presbyterian Church or the Uniting Church.

How are the School Councillors appointed?

Each School Council is a committee of the PMSA Council and includes the school’s Principal, up to three PMSA Councillors, and up to four independent Councillors. The independent Councillors are selected from applicants sought from a number of areas including the AICD director career service and the school’s wider community. The School Council seeks and recommends prospective School Councillors who are appointed by the PMSA Council. 

Do PMSA Councillors receive lifetime annuities or other financial benefits for their service?

No. PMSA Councillors do not receive any remuneration or lifetime annuities for their services. All members of the PMSA, our Committees and School Councils are volunteers. PMSA By-Laws state that PMSA Councillors may be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incurred in the performance of their duties for the PMSA, and the reimbursement regime is according to written policy. Like many others schools, children of PMSA Councillors, PMSA staff, clergy and ministers of the Presbyterian or Uniting Church who attend PMSA schools may have annual tuition costs discounted by 33.33%.

Does the PMSA plan to merge the schools to make one single entity?

No. The PMSA commissioned Deloitte to identify possible opportunities to strengthen the overall cost-efficiency of schools’ back-office administrative support functions. There was never any intention or recommendation to merge any of the PMSA schools. Each PMSA school is unique and individual, but shares with each other their collective values as well as their knowledge and expertise to enhance the educational experience across all schools. The PMSA has no plans at all to make the four schools one single entity.

What reporting does the PMSA do?

Under the current governance structure, the PMSA meets all reporting requirements. The reporting of information to stakeholders is an area that will be explored in the current governance review.

The PMSA currently reports annually to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) to demonstrate that PMSA is operating appropriately as a charity and is meeting its obligations under the ACNC Act and the ACNC Regulation.

The PMSA discloses information about how they have expended, or committed to expend, all funding received from the State Government for the relevant purposes to the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board (NSSAB) annually, in accordance with section 374 of the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (Qld). This information is then reported to the Department of Education.

The PMSA also provides NSSAB with Cyclical Review Data and documentation that assists NSSAB in monitoring compliance for accreditation and eligibility for government funding (Cyclical Review Data).

The PMSA also reports annually with information to the Workplace Gender Equality Association with information that helps build a comprehensive national picture of gender equality challenges in Australia.

In the interest of transparency, the PMSA website contains the following information – PMSA Constitution and By-Laws, an outline of the PMSA’s governance structure, PMSA Councillor biographies, the PMSA Strategic Plan, PMSA Annual Reports which are audited by KPMG, links to school Annual Reports, links to MySchools reporting information, and links to Annual Information Statements listed on ACNC.

The PMSA is not required to and does not currently provide financial information for each school.  The PMSA’s schools are part of the one single legal entity which is the PMSA. Each school is therefore “backed” by the financial resources of the organisation as a whole.  

The PMSA also reports annually to the Presbyterian Church of Queensland and the Uniting Church of Australia Queensland Synod.

For more information on the PMSA reporting, please visit the PMSA Annual Reports page.

Will the PMSA release the report from the Chesterman facilitation process?

The Chesterman process was commissioned by the Uniting and Presbyterian Churches, not the PMSA. The PMSA has been one of the participants in the process. The PMSA is not in control of the process. Any information regarding this process will come directly from the Churches.

Why am I not able to obtain an individual PMSA school’s financial statements?

The PMSA is not required to release individual school figures. This is commercially sensitive information and common practice for many other private schools that operate within larger groups not to report this level of detail. Each school operates in a competitive environment and releasing detailed financial information on school activities could put the schools at a competitive disadvantage relative to other private schools.

Do school fees from one PMSA school help support another PMSA school?

No. School fees and levies cover the annual operating costs of each school. These are deposited directly in the relevant school’s account. Each PMSA school operates independently and is responsible for their own financial budget and performance. Each school has independent income, expenditure, budgets and targets. The income that each school receives from tuition fees, donations and government grants is used entirely to operate and develop that school. The School Council, Principal and Business Manager manage the financial accounts at each school which are audited by KPMG in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards.

Do donations to any of the school’s Foundations go to the PMSA?

No. Donations made to any of the school’s Foundations go directly to that Foundation and are tax deductible. Each Foundation has a Strategic Plan that aims to support their school with outstanding educational facilities. Donations are not used to cover education costs and do not go to the PMSA.

Where does the money paid to the School’s Voluntary Building Levy go?

The Voluntary Building Fund Levy that may be included on school tuition fee statements is a tax deductible donation which is either passed on by the school to the relevant school’s Foundation or retained in the school's Building Fund. Both the Building Fund and the school Foundations have DGR status (deductible gift status), not the school and these funds can only be spent on capital works programs for that school. When these levies are paid, you receive a receipt from the school’s Foundation or the Building Fund. These funds do not go to the PMSA corporate office. The PMSA does not have any building funds.

Is cash flow a problem for the PMSA and how will loan agreements be fulfilled?

No. The PMSA is a strong, financially-robust organisation. The PMSA and the schools closely manage the financial positions of all of the PMSA financial affairs which include the schools.

Do the Churches need to provide a guarantee for PMSA loans?

No. The Churches do not provide any guarantees to any PMSA loans. The Churches have no financial interest or ownership in the PMSA schools.

Is the PMSA going to sell-off historic school grounds at Clayfield College, Somerville House and Brisbane Boys’ College?

No. There are no plans to sell historic school grounds of any of the PMSA schools.

Has $1.2 million in Clayfield College Government Funding been used for Oxley land / golf course and Grammar Early Learning?

No. Commonwealth and State Government funding is provided to each school and is only used for education at that school.

Is Clayfield College ‘on the brink of debt’?

No. Contrary to incorrect media reports, Clayfield College is strong and will remain so. The school is financially stable, continuously evolving and growing steadily. All schools are backed by the financial resources of the PMSA as a whole.

Did the PMSA hold forums in 2017?

The PMSA held a forum at each school and invited the executive of each school’s P&F Association, Old Collegians/Old Girls Association, Foundation, and Executive staff. All available PMSA and School Councillors attended along with PMSA Corporate Office staff. At Somerville House, only Executive staff members attended the forum.

The PMSA has also held staff briefing sessions at each school. The PMSA will also hold public community forums relating to the governance review in April. Please visit the Governance Review page for more information.