This paper presents interview data from research conducted in two public high schools in the state of Queensland, Australia. The research was concerned with exploring issues of equity and diversity. Both schools had recently converted to ‘independent’ status within a new state policy reform – the Independent Public Schools (IPS) initiative. This reform was seen as significantly impacting on matters of equity and diversity and so became an important focus of the research. With reference to the ‘hallmark’ values of public education defined in this paper as: 1) public ownership, 2) equity and access, and 3) public purpose, the paper analyses the thoughts and concerns that key personnel at these schools articulated about this reform. Mindful of the new policy discourses shaping autonomous schooling in Queensland, this analysis provides insight into some of the ways that this reform is already making an impact in enabling but also constraining the integrity of public schooling. These hallmark values are presented here as useful analytic tools to examine the extent to which the original progressive aims of autonomous schooling initiatives are being realised or lost.