IDEAS originated in Education Queensland's school reform proposals of the mid-1990s. At that time, research into successful school reform undertaken through the University of Wisconsin-Madison was used by the University of Southern Queensland's Leadership Research Institute to create the Research-based Framework for Enhancing School Outcomes.
In trialling the framework in 1997 in Queensland state schools, and exploring nationwide school contexts, the ideas process and the concept of parallel leadership were developed. Thus, IDEAS is a unique Queensland creation and stems from a fruitful university-schools partnership.
From 1998 to 2000, IDEAS was used in forty-nine state schools. Their experiences were used to refine the core IDEAS processes and concepts. Since 2001, schools have focused on aligning IDEAS actions with QSE-2010 and articulating pedagogy appropriate and relevant for their school community.