Cheryl Vardon to lead review of non-state schools framework

Published Wednesday, 15 March, 2023 at 01:14 PM

Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing
The Honourable Grace Grace

  • Cheryl Vardon will lead the review of Queensland’s non-state schools accreditation framework
  • Review aims to ensure powers held by the Non State Schools Accreditation Board (NSSAB) remain fit for purpose
  • The Palaszczuk Government is committed to providing choice for families in deciding the best school for their children

Experienced educator Cheryl Vardon will lead a comprehensive independent review of the accreditation framework for non-state schools in Queensland.

In line with the Terms of Reference, Ms Vardon will review legislation, which has been in place for five years, to ensure the powers of the Non State Schools Accreditation Board are fit-for-purpose.

Previously holding a range of senior leadership roles, including being the inaugural Queensland Family and Child Commissioner, Ms Vardon will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise in education, regulatory frameworks, and systems that protect vulnerable children and young people to the position.

Announced by the Palaszczuk Government in October last year, the review provides the opportunity to ensure non-state schools are well supported to continue providing high-quality educational experiences for their students.

Ms Vardon will undertake stakeholder consultation in the coming months and provide a final review report later this year.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education Grace Grace:

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to supporting the right of families to choose the education they want for their children,” Ms Grace said.

“Non-state schools play an essential, valued role in fostering this choice, and providing quality education for Queensland children and young people.

“The current legislation has been in place for five years, so now is the right time to make sure the accreditation framework is fit for purpose, supports the provision of high-quality education, and ensures public confidence is maintained in our non-state schools.

“The review will look at the regulation of non-state schools in other jurisdictions, assess the powers currently in place, consider the balance between imposing standards and minimising any regulatory burden, and make recommendations for improvements.”

Quotes attributable to Ms Cheryl Vardon:

“I’m looking forward to taking a consultative approach with all stakeholders as we share a common goal of ensuring the best educational experience for students with their families shaping futures for a changing world,” she said.

“I will draw on my experience as a Director-General of Education in other states of Australia, and as a Regional Director in the field of education, along with significant experience in working with young people and leading reviews which have resulted in policy changes to improve the safety and well-being of children and young people.”

Biography of Ms Cheryl Vardon:

Ms Vardon has a distinguished career as an educator and is recognised for her leadership in the protection of vulnerable children and young people. She is an experienced reviewer of systems using case studies and stories to influence policy and establish reforms.

In 2016 and 2017 she led a series of reviews for the Queensland Government leading to practical systems reform measures to keep vulnerable children more than safe. The reviews have become industry benchmarks.

In 2004, while Commissioner for Public Administration in the ACT, Ms Vardon led a review (the 'Vardon Report') of child protection services.

Her background includes representation of Australian governments, companies and organisations both nationally and internationally.

Ms Vardon’s work in Indigenous education and services for Indigenous children and young people has received a Prime Minister’s Reconciliation Award.

Ms Vardon has held many leadership, board, and statutory roles, as a Director-General, Chief Executive, Commissioner and Adjunct Professor, in private, public and not-for-profit organisations, including education departments, children’s services departments, consumer affairs, a national charity, universities and tribunals.

She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders, a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member (Women for Media) of the Women's Leadership Institute Australia.

Experience summary 

  • Principal, Vardon Consulting
  • Chair of the North West Queensland Hospital and Health Service Board (current – appointed April 2022 to March 2026)
  • Inaugural Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner, Queensland Family and Child Commission (2015 to 2021)
  • Established Queensland's Child Death Review Board and appointed initial Chair of the Board in 2020
  • Awarded an honorary doctorate (Doctor of the University) by Griffith University in 2018
  • Adjunct Professor at Griffith University (current)
  • Member of the Teachers’ Disciplinary Appeals Board for the Victorian Education and Early Childhood Development Department
  • Member of an advisory council for the Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • Former Director General of Education for Western Australia


Media Contact: Kate Talbot, 0439 803 211