ABOUT INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

Independent schools form a key part of the education landscape in Australia and sit alongside government and Catholic schools in contributing to Australian society and the safety, learning and wellbeing of Australian children.

Independent schools are a significant, large and growing component of the Australian schooling system. They have a reputation as providers of quality education and are recognised for their leadership and innovation in school education.

Including independent Catholic schools, 1,187 of the 9,679 schools in Australia are in the Independent school sector. In 2021, they enrolled 667,259 students, 17 per cent of the Australian student population, or one in six students.

Independent schools are diverse, in terms of the communities they serve, their student population, their size and their nature. This diversity has long been considered a major strength of the Independent schooling system, serving well the needs of a geographically dispersed, socially mixed, multicultural and multi-faith population.

The Independent school sector is characterised by;

  •  broad choice for parents
  • strong community links
  • diversity of school type, size and focus
  • autonomous governance arrangements
  • comprehensive accountability.

Size of Independent schools

FEWER THAN 50 STUDENTS 12%
50 — 199 STUDENTS 26%
200 — 999 STUDENTS 42%
1,000 — 1,999 STUDENTS 18%
2,000 OR MORE STUDENTS 26 SCHOOLS OR 2%

 

Number of Independent schools

PRIMARY 225 19%
SECONDARY 72 6%
COMBINED 752 63%
SPECIAL SCHOOLS 138 12%
TOTAL 1,187 100%

 

Many Independent schools are affiliated with a particular religion or promote a particular educational philosophy.

School affiliation in the Independent sector, 2020

Affiliation Schools Student FTE %
Anglican 154 158,874 24.6%
Non-Denominational 222 92,641 14.3%
Christian Schools 157 75,422 11.7%
Uniting Church in Australia 42 49,562 7.7%
Catholic 56 44,859 6.9%
Lutheran 80 41,311 6.4%
Islamic 47 40,561 6.3%
Baptist 42 23,736 3.7%
Inter-Denominational 25 17,636 2.7%
Seventh Day Adventist 44 14,895 2.3%
Presbyterian 13 11,652 1.8%
Jewish 20 9,422 1.5%
Steiner School 50 9,358 1.4%
Pentecostal 20 8,226 1.3%
Assemblies of God 11 7,029 1.1%
Brethren 9 5,321 0.8%
Montessori School 39 4,871 0.8%
Other Catholic 8 3,722 0.6%
Greek Orthodox 8 3,657 0.6%
Other Orthodox 5 2,246 0.3%
Other Religious Affiliation* 14 5,923 0.9%
Other** 103 16,448 2.5 %
Source: Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
*Other Religious Affiliation includes Churches of Christ, Ananda Marga, Hare Krishna and Society of Friends
**Other includes special schools, international schools, indigenous schools, and community schools.

All recognised government and non-government schools in Australia operate within the bounds of state and territory and Australian Government legislation which together impose requirements in relation to financial operation, accountability, the curriculum, assessment and reporting. (See Snapshot and At a Glance 2022 in our Publications Hub)

AUTONOMY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Independent schools are accountable to their governing body and must operate within the law and government policy but enjoy the autonomy to respond flexibly and innovatively to their local community and their students’ needs.

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ENROLMENT TRENDS

Student enrolments in Independent schools have been growing consistently over decades. The growth in enrolments reflects the health of the sector.

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PARENTS AND SCHOOL CHOICE

The diversity of Independent schools give families more opportunity to choose a school that best meets the needs of their child and their own values, within a frame of common social values and minimum standards.

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FIND AN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL

See a list of Independent schools in each state or territory.

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INFORMATION FOR SCHOOLS

Information that may assist the operation of Independent schools.

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DISPELLING MYTHS

Debunking mistaken beliefs and theories about Independent schools and the sector.

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