Who has the power to mandate policy in Australian public schools?
Good question. Thanks Avraham!
Education is not listed in the Australian Constitution as a responsibility of the Australian Parliament, which means it is a responsibility for state and territory parliaments. This means state and territory parliaments—particularly education ministers and departments—run schools and set education policy.
Here's where it gets a bit more complex. The Australian Parliament is able to collect more taxes than states, so the Australian Government has more money than the states to spend on things like education. Although the state and territory governments run their own schools, they may need to follow Australian Government policies to receive federal government funding. Section 96 of the Australian Constitution allows the Australian Parliament to give money—'tied grants'—to state governments based on certain terms and conditions.
This arrangement lets the Australian Government carry out important national education policies, like the Australian Curriculum. The federal Education Minister and bodies such the federal Department of Education and Training are responsible for this.
A school group arriving at Parliament House.
Parliamentary Education Office (peo.gov.au)
This image shows a large group of students arriving at Parliament House.