Independent schools: strong growth continues

GROWING: Independent schools have been Australia's fastest growing school sector over the last decade. Photo: Shutterstock
GROWING: Independent schools have been Australia's fastest growing school sector over the last decade. Photo: Shutterstock

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Parents continue to show a high degree of confidence in Independent schools, with the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing the sector recording its strongest growth in 10 years.

"In 2018 there was a net increase of 17 Independent schools in Australia, with Independent student numbers growing by over 12,000," Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) executive director Barry Wallett, said. "These numbers show that parents have strong confidence in Independent schools."

Independent schools have been Australia's fastest growing school sector over the last decade, with the latest figure of a 2.2 per cent growth in enrolments being the sector's highest since 2008. 

"Like all schools they are registered with NSW Education Standards Authority and like all schools they are subject to the laws of the land, so too legislative compliance," chief executive of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, Dr Geoff Newcombe AM said.

"Where the majority differ a little is that they are non-system schools. For example the Catholic schools are a system run by their central authority and the government schools are a system run by their central authority.

"Ninety per cent of independent schools are run by an independent board, a not-for-profit company where directors can be appointed by parents, or in the case of a religious school directors can be appointed by the  synod in the Anglican church or a mosque for an Islamic schools. 

"The board of a school develops strategy and policy, the principal and executive implement that policy.

"The main distinguishing feature is that they pride themselves on being independent and that independence gives our schools a lot more flexibility to do things such as strongly aligning policy, mission and ethos with their community and their values."

Another big draw card for schools in this sector is that they have more control over their teaching staff, and work hard to retain dedicated and enthusiastic professionals.

"We want, in our schools, teachers of high quality," Dr Geoff Newcombe said.