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About ISQ

Queensland independent schools, sometimes referred colloquially in the community as private schools, are not-for-profit education institutions that are as diverse as the students they educate and the communities they serve.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) is a not-for-profit peak body, dedicated to championing independent schools across the state. 

We are committed to: 

  • enhancing school-wide performance, robust governance and improved student outcomes 
  • promoting excellence and leading research in education-related public policy 
  • delivering quality professional learning  
  • fostering collaboration and continual growth across the sector
  • being a united and powerful voice for Queensland independent schooling. 

ISQ is governed by a Board of Directors and day-to-day operations are managed by CEO, Christopher Mountford, an executive team and more than 60 staff based in its Brisbane (Spring Hill) office.

ISQ's Board of Directors is chaired by Karen Spiller OAM CF. The Board has various associated committees.

Executive Team

Chief Executive Officer
CHRISTOPHER MOUNTFORD 

Christopher Mountford was appointed the CEO for Independent Schools Queensland in June 2021. Previously, he held the position of Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia. He has specific expertise in the areas of policy, government advocacy and commercial activities.

Christopher has more than two decades of experience in member-based advocacy organisations and government relations. Importantly, he also has an exceptional understanding of government regulation and has been influential on numerous state and local government advisory boards.

Christopher holds a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and a Bachelor of Economics and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). He is also a volunteer Parent Ambassador for Act for Kids; an Australian charity focused on treating and preventing child abuse.

Chief Operating Officer
STUART McDOWALL

Stuart McDowall commenced with ISQ in 2022. He has more than 20 years of professional experience in financial, systems and project management, having worked as a management consultant and in corporate support roles. Stuart has delivered a wide range of growth and change initiatives for public sector, not-for-profit and corporate entities.

Stuart recognises the importance of education in our society and is proud to contribute to ISQ’s leadership and support to the independent school sector.

Stuart has qualifications in business and information technology and is a Chartered Accountant.

DIRECTOR (SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT & PERFORMANCE)
MARK NEWHAM

Mark Newham was appointed Director (Education Performance & Development) in November 2010 after initially joining ISQ in 2003 as Program Officer, Literacy. Mark negotiates and manages the implementation of a range of programs and funding agreements with federal and state governments in areas including teacher quality, disengaged students and leadership. He represents independent schools on state and national committees and working groups.

Previously, Mark held various teaching and administrative positions in government and non-government schools. He has post-graduate qualifications in education and organisational development.

DIRECTOR (STRATEGIC RELATIONS)
SHARI ARMISTEAD

Shari Armistead leads a team whose areas of responsibility include political and public advocacy, strategic resourcing/school funding, research and policy, school planning, member relations, parent engagement, workplace health and safety, facilities management, emergency and issues management, public affairs, communications, e-learning, and professional learning and events.

Shari was appointed Director (Strategic Relations) in 2013. She began working with the leadership team on government relations and strategic communications in 2005 as a consultant and continued working with the association for six years until joining ISQ in 2011 as Principal Advisor Strategic Relations. Shari has more than 25 years of experience across the not-for-profit, corporate and government sectors in senior strategic roles including Director, General Manager of a corporate consultancy, political/government advisor, media and crisis management advisor, award-winning journalist and media and crisis management trainer.

Shari is Board Chair of the Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network, Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAIDC), and Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders (FIML).

Related bodies

Queensland Independent Schools Block Grant Authority (QIS BGA) is wholly owned by ISQ and is a not-for-profit company that receives and distributes capital funds to independent schools in Queensland, on behalf of the Australian and Queensland Governments.

Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network (QISPN) is the representative body for the parents and carers of children attending independent schools. It is governed by a board of directors and is supported by ISQ.

ISQ is a member of Independent Schools Australia, the national peak body for independent schooling in Australia.

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