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.

Since the 1970s, Australian governments have supported choice in schooling, providing public funding to non-government schools as a way of ensuring that all schools have at least a minimum level of facilities and resources.

In 2018, Australian non-government schools enrolled 42 per cent of all secondary school students compared to the OECD average of 18 per cent.

Diversity enables choice

Independent schools reflect Australia’s religious, social and ethnic diversity. This diversity offers options for families of all religions, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds to choose schools that promote the values, educational philosophies and/or approaches to learning that best suit the needs of their children and their own beliefs.

The fact that enrolment numbers are growing faster in the Independent school sector than the Catholic or government school sectors show that many Australian families value and act on the choice the Independent school sector provides.

Parents’ right to choose the kind of education that will be given to their child, is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Independent schools strive to consistently meet high parental expectations. The freedom of students and their families to exercise choice in schooling is one of the most demanding forms of accountability for Independent schools.

How parents choose

Parents are influenced by a variety of factors when choosing an Independent school. Independent Schools Australia’s 2021 School Choice Research report showed that the four most important factors influencing parents’ choice of Independent school are;

  • educational excellence
  • good teachers
  • a supportive caring environment
  • good facilities

The outcome parents want from schooling, above all, is for children to have a well-rounded education with a strong emphasis on learning life skills.


Independent schools attract students from all income groups. Notably, almost half of Independent schools charge annual fees of less than $5,600 and just over one in ten schools charge fees of $20,000 or higher.

The Independent school sector is experiencing student enrolment growth in schools across all income levels, with schools charging fees of $5,000 – regardless of school religion or philosophy – seeing the highest growth.

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