Prominent businessmen are ramping up pressure on the Anglican Church to hand over control of its schools in southern Queensland amid concern about the handling of child sexual abuse cases and its dated school governance practices.
Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford was among about 200 private school alumni 'old boys' who gathered at a dinner in Brisbane on Thursday to honour former Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) headmaster Harry Roberts.
But many were openly critical of the church-appointed councils that preside over Queensland Anglican schools.
Mr Clifford, a former Churchie student, described Mr Roberts as an inspirational education leader but also referred to turmoil faced by the school over whether the former headmaster's dealings with child abusers in the 1960s were up to modern-day standards.
"I think we have to acknowledge crimes were committed during his [Roberts'] tenure which significantly impacted the lives of a small number of students," Mr Clifford said.
"As a consequence, some ex-teachers were jailed.
"It's been a sad part of Churchie's history, even though some of the details are disputed."
Last night's dinner was organised by the group Rescue Churchie, which formed to defend Mr Roberts' legacy and reputation in the wake of subsequent criticism of his handling of child sex abuse allegations.
This led to the school's Anglican governing council removing Mr Roberts' name from the new school library building.
That decision angered many former students.
But Rescue Churchie coordinator Dr Tom Biggs said their group also believed Queensland Anglican schools must be better aligned with recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
In royal commission hearings, it was revealed the Brisbane Diocese received more child sexual abuse complaints than any other Anglican Church diocese in the country.
Dr Biggs said a change to Anglican school governance was needed and an independent body should be installed to ensure the safety of children and a continued future for the schools.
"That is absolutely in line with the recent royal commission into sexual abuse findings," Dr Biggs said.
"It highlighted that ineffective leadership and flawed governance and unhealthy school cultures, particularly in non-government schools, must be remedied."
A spokesperson for the Anglican Church Southern Queensland said key measures that protect the safety of children are in place at the church's schools.
"Anglican Schools in Southern Queensland, working together with the [Brisbane] Diocese, have achieved a consistent student protection policy and framework which exceeds community standards and expectations," the spokesperson said.
"School councillors are selected for their skills and experience in overseeing the operations of schools."
Four years ago, the Anglican Schools Commission moved to mandate teachers with reporting suspected abuse to police or Child Safety, implement training and cyber safety schemes and placing protection officers within schools.
But Dr Biggs said the Church's measures were simply 'window-dressing' and disgruntled parents had chosen not to send their children to Anglican schools.
"The donors have indicated to the school and to us that there's no further donations likely for the next 10 or 15 years unless there's a change."