Geelong College, Victoria, provided crucial assistance in the establishment of the NCIS.

The inaugural Executive Officer, Mr Alan Scott was seconded from the staff of Geelong College, and the college provided premises for NCIS and invaluable support services during its early formative period.

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On 18 June 1970, NCIS Chairman, Mr Ian Dixon, met with the Hon. Sir Nigel Hubert Bowen AC KBE, the Federal Minister for Education and Science.

It was reported to have been a useful and amicable meeting, which was followed up with a letter to the Minister regarding Government financial assistance to Independent schools.

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Following a meeting of Independent school sector representatives at Geelong Grammar School in 1968, it was resolved to establish a national council to assist, strengthen and promote Independent schools in Australia.

The National Council of Independent Schools (NCIS) held its inaugural meeting in March 1970 at Xavier College in Kew, Victoria. The NCIS Council was made up of representatives nominated by the Associations of Independent Schools (AIS) in the six states. Each state had five representatives from boys’ schools governing bodies, girls’ schools governing bodies, heads of boys’ schools, heads of girls’ schools and from the State Catholic Education Office. The Federal Director of Catholic Education, Chairman of the Headmasters’ Conference and Chairman of the Headmistresses’ Association were ex-officio members of the Council.

The meeting established and elected a Committee of the NCIS, which held it first meeting after the general meeting. The Committee consisted of chairman, Mr Ian Dixon, and six other members, with power to coopt up to three other persons, one stipulation being that the committee must include members from at least three states.

Scan from original minutes, 1970

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Publication of the Karmel report leads to expansion of Government Funding through the SRRI. Chaired by Professor Peter Karmel, the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission was set up in December 1972, shortly after the Whitlam Government took office.

The Committee was to examine the position of government and non-government primary and secondary schools and make recommendations on their needs and on ways of meeting the needs.

On behalf of the sector NCIS put in a submission to the Commission, with the Chair and other NCIS committee members appearing before the Commission to highlight the importance of government support to non-government school students.

The Committee’s recommendations advocated needs‐based funding to ensure that all schools, in both government and non-government sectors, achieved minimum acceptable standards. These recommendations led the expansion of Australian Government recurrent funding for both sectors, paving the way for strong enrolment growth in the years to come.

Funding was administered as a general recurrent grants program. To do this the Interim Committee developed the Schools Recurrent Resources Index (SRRI), where the expenditure of each school was measured against a standard of government costs for schooling. For government and Catholic systemic schools grants were distributed on a state by state basis, while for Independent schools recurrent funding was provided as a per-capita grant paid to each school.

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At the July 1974 NCIS Board meeting it was resolved that the recently established Association of Independent Schools of the ACT be admitted as a constituent of NCIS.

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In 1974 it was agreed that the Geelong office presented access issues for interstate travellers and was no longer an appropriate location for a national headquarters.

The Board resolved by a substantial majority to relocate its headquarters to Melbourne. In 1975 the NCIS moved to Melbourne with the Council accepting the offer of a sub-tenancy in offices at 330 Punt Road, South Yarra, as a sub-let from AISV.

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In 1977, NCIS held its first conference. New perspectives on boarding schools took place in Canberra on 7-9 May and attracted over 90 delegates.

In order to facilitate the enhanced engagement of the independent school community with key policy and political decision makers, conferences would become a regular two yearly event for the organisation, in partnership with its member associations and later with the Association of Heads of Independent Schools. Over the years these events have drawn together principals and school leaders, chairpersons and members of governing bodies, and school business managers to identify, discuss and analyse the key issues on the education agenda.

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Mr lan Dixon
Mr Peter Thwaites
Mr John Rundle
Dr Len Weickhardt
Mr Geoffrey Kennedy

Executive Directors

Mr Alan Scott
Rev Leigh Cook
Rev Bob Gregory



1981 DOGS High Court result

In the late 1960s, teachers union members and parents formed a lobby group to oppose government assistance to non-government schools. The Council for the Defence of Government Schools was otherwise known as DOGS.

During the 1970s DOGS launched a court case challenging the legitimacy of Commonwealth financial support to non-government schools based on the premise that funding of religious schools contravened section 116 of the Constitution.

Despite personally disagreeing with the DOGS position, in 1973 Victorian Attorney-General Vernon Wilcox approved the constitutional challenge to state aid as he supported peoples’ right to challenge the constitution.

The case against the Commonwealth was brought to the High Court in 1980, and the NCIS and Catholic education were court appointed to join the Commonwealth as defendants in the case. This placed considerable responsibility on NCIS, which was still a relatively young organisation, defending its schools in a High Court case.

The DOGS sought to argue that state aid to religious schools was unconstitutional as it equated to the Commonwealth financing religion. However, the Commonwealth, NCIS and the Catholic Church successfully argued that Commonwealth support represented funding for schools and the education of young Australians, and that the core role of religious schools was first and foremost as educational institutions in the same way that government schools were.

In February 1981, six of the seven High Court judges ruled that funding for religious schools was valid because it was for educational purposes, and not for “establishing a religion”. The plaintiffs were ordered by the court to pay the legal costs of the NCIS and the Catholic Church.

It is widely considered today that the DOGS case helped to highlight the legitimacy of the principal of needs-based government financial assistance to all schooling sectors, which paved the way for the broadening of the Independent school sector over future years.

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NCIS Moves to Canberra and opens NCIS Headquarters

At the 1980 Annual General Meeting, NCIS was authorised to relocate the secretariat to Canberra on the southern shores of Lake Burley Griffin. The move to Canberra was viewed by government and associated bodies as mutually beneficial. The national body’s location in the Australian capital has been a significant advantage to the sector as the federal government’s involvement in schooling has expanded. The move facilitated enhanced consultation and direct engagement with the federal education department.

The commissioning in 1982 and opening of the NCIS headquarters (today known as ISCA House) in 1983, was at the time and continues to be seen as a commitment by the independent sector to continuing its direct relationship with the Australian Government.

The building of the secretariat could only be achieved through the direct contribution of many schools and AIS’s.

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Education Resources Index

The Education Resources Index (ERI) was a model introduced in 1985 to determine the level of Commonwealth funding for schools. Schools were allocated a score based on their total private income divided by their number of students. The score enabled each school to be ranked against other private schools. Based on their ERI score, all private schools were ranked from Category 1 to 12. The ranking determined the size of the Commonwealth general recurrent grant per student that the school would receive.

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School funding moves to Department of Education

From September 1985 administration of the general recurrent and capital programs became the responsibility of the Commonwealth Department of Education leaving the specific purpose programs under the control of the Commission. With the disbanding of the Schools Commission in late 1987, all programs became the administrative responsibility of the Department of Education.

Shortly before the change took place, the  Minister for Education confirmed to NCIS that it would continue a similar formal relationship with the Department that it had enjoyed with the Schools Commission.

The period following the ending of the Schools Commission saw a continual and expanding role for the Commonwealth in schooling.

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The Hobart Declaration on Schooling

In July 1988 the National Council of Independent Schools, the National Catholic Education Commission, the Australian High School Principals Association, the Independent Teachers Federation of Australia and the Australian Council of Trade Unions agreed to participate in the development of national goals and priorities for Australian schools.

The Hobart Declaration, which included the Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling in Australia, was released by Ministers following their Hobart meeting of the Australian Education Council in 1989.

It provided a broad strategic framework and specific goals for individual schools, all school sectors, families, parents and the broader community to “provide an excellent education for all young people, being one which develops their talents and capacities to full potential, and is relevant to the social, cultural and economic needs of the nation.”

The Hobart Declaration was superseded by the 1999 Adelaide Declaration. This was in turn superseded by the 2008 Melbourne Declaration at which point it became a condition of their public funding that independent schools were committed to achieving the goals of the Declaration. This was then superseded by the Alice Springs Declaration in 2020.

The Hobart Declaration can be read in full here on the Education Council Website.

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New constitution and name change to NCISA

The 1989 NCIS Annual General Meeting amended its constitution to simplify the Council’s operations. The Council changed its name to the National Council of Independent Schools’ Associations (NCISA).

The constitutional amendments changed the Council’s structure so that each state and territory member association appointed a delegate to the Board of Management. Delegates are required to be either a governor or a principal of a school which is a member of an Association. A chairman is then elected from the board. The state that the chairman is from then appoints another delegate to the board for the duration of the chairman’s term.

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Association of Independent Schools of the Northern Territory join NCISA

Coinciding with the NCISA constitution and name change, the Association of Independent Schools of the Northern Territory became a member of NCISA, meaning that for the first time all state and territory AISs were now members of the national body.

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Mr Geoffrey Kennedy
Mr Peter Rhoden
Mr Tom Chapman
Mr Bert Stevens
Dr Peter Macarthur

Executive Directors

Rev Bob Gregory
Mr Peter Wilkinson
Mr Berry Durston
Mr Fergus Thomson



National Equity Program for Schools

Begun in 1993, and fully introduced in 1994, a new National Equity Program for Schools (NEPS) subsumed many of the previous targeted programs that aimed to remove educational disadvantage. These included English As A Second Language, Special Education, Disadvantaged Schools, Country Areas, Literacy and Learning, Students at Risk, Gifted and Talented, Gender Equity and Students with Disabilities programs.

The broad goals of the NEPS were to maximise educational outcomes for students in equity target groups, to ensure that the range of outcomes for these school students approaches those for the school-age population as a whole, and to lift the educational attainment of all target groups.

For Independent schools, the NEPS marked a major change in the approach to funding these targeted programs. For the first time, instead of schools being directly funded by the Commonwealth Government, NEPS programs were funded by Commonwealth grants to Associations of Independent Schools, who in turn managed the programs for schools.

In the development of the NEPS, NCISA Executive Director, Mr Fergus Thomson, served as the NCISA representative to the National Equity Program Advisory Committee.

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Review of the ERI and Development of the SES Funding Model

Under then Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp, a Commonwealth government review of schools funding began in 1997 to determine the effectiveness of the Education Resource Index (ERI) funding model.

The review concluded in 1999, noting problems in assessing the level of a school’s private income for the purpose of determining funding levels. The system was considered to have many loopholes, and attempts to address these had made the system increasingly complex. Ultimately the review determined that the ERI was inadequate to accurately measure the relative need of individual non-government schools or their capacity to raise private income. This led to the development of the Socio Economic Status (SES funding model) .

NCISA was closely involved in the review, taking a prominent role in negotiations with Dr Kemp and the Education Department. Representatives from the Independent sectors joined with Catholic representatives to be part of the Steering Committee for the Simulation Project on a socioeconomic (SES) based model for recurrent funding of non-government schools, which was set up as part of the Review process.

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NCISA’s First Commissioned Research Report

In 1998 NCISA undertook it’s first commissioned research project.

WHAT PARENTS WANT FROM THEIR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION was carried out by Irving Saulwick and Associates, it was designed to “ascertain the perceptions and aspirations of parents from a range of social, economic and cultural groups, about  their children’s education and determine ways in which messages and media can be used to most effectively communicate with them.”

The research was based on discussions from a series of 12 group discussions carried out in NSW, VIC and WA.

It found that parents expected a lot from their children’s schools.  They expect them to:

  • nurture their child with care;
  • allow their child to develop as well-rounded human beings;
  • imbue their child with, and reinforce, the values and culture of the home;
  • instill in their child self-discipline and respect for others;
  • teach their child how to learn, and
  • give their child enough skills and knowledge to allow them to build a future economically and socially.

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The Adelaide Declaration

Superseding 1989’s Hobart Declaration, the Adelaide Declaration, which included the Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling in Australia, was released by Ministers following their Adelaide meeting of the Australian Education Council in 1999.

It provided a broad strategic framework and specific goals for individual schools, all school sectors, families, parents and the broader community to provide “a foundation for young Australians’ intellectual, physical, social, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development. By providing a supportive and nurturing environment, schooling contributes to the development of students’ sense of self-worth, enthusiasm for learning and optimism for the future.”

The Adelaide Declaration was superseded by the 2008  Melbourne Declaration at which point it became a condition of their public funding that independent schools were committed to achieving the goals of the Declaration and in 2019, was superseded by the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration which placed an emphasis on addressing education gaps in today’s young Australians.

The Adelaide Declaration can be read in full here on the Education Council Website.

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Dr Peter Macarthur
Dr Darrell Fisher
Mr John Ralston
Mr Stephen Newton

Executive Directors

Mr Fergus Thomson



Introduction of the SES Funding Model

Following the Kemp review of the late 90s, the Socio-Economic Status (SES) funding model) was introduced in 2001.

Between 2001-2004 all Independent schools, including non-systemic Catholic schools, were funded under the new arrangements, with Catholic systemic schools being included from 2005.

The SES funding model determined a school’s funding based on the proxy measure of the capacity of a school’s community to support it. This would allow the Commonwealth to support the highest needs communities with the greatest funding, whilst still providing fair funding for better resourced communities.

NCISA was closely involved in the late 90s review, taking a prominent role in negotiations with Dr Kemp and the Education Department. The independent sector believed the SES model was a logical development, based on improvements in technology, of methodology first employed in the early 1970’s to use socio-economic indicators for special purpose funding of school education. They believed the scheme would assist parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, whether based in metropolitan or regional areas.

NCISA’s submission to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education Legislation Committee states that:

NCISA regards the SES-linked funding arrangements as a much fairer and more equitable means of allocating Commonwealth funding for schooling than the existing outdated Education Resources Index–based arrangements. Like the ERI, the SES contains a basic entitlement complemented by a needs-based component. However, unlike the ERI, the SES scheme uses an assessment of needs which is related to the resources of the community the school serves.

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The Independent Schools National Consultative Group

For several years NCISA had met regularly with the executive officers of national non-government school groups to discuss national independent schooling issues and to ensure the NCISA Board was aware of the views of all major school groups in the sector. By the late nineties the structure of these meetings had become more formalised into larger group meetings, and in September 2001 the NCISA Board agreed to form the National Consultative Group and to host a minimum of two meetings per year of “national” non-government school organisations/associations.

National Consultative Group meetings are still today an important part of Independent Schools Australia’s activities, with membership having expanded since its formation.

ISA National Consultative Group membership as of 2021

  • Adventist Schools Australia
  • Anglican Schools Australia
  • Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA)
  • Association of School Business Administrators (ASBA)
  • Australian Association of Christian Schools (AACS)
  • Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA)
  • Australian Council of Jewish Schools
  • Australian Parents Council (APC)
  • Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)
  • Christian Education National (CEN)
  • Christian Schools Australia (CSA)
  • Ecumenical Schools Australia (ESA)
  • Greek Orthodox Schools
  • Islamic Schools Association of Australia
  • Lutheran Education Australia
  • Montessori Australia
  • National Independent Special Schools Association (NISSA)
  • Steiner Education Australia
  • Uniting Church

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NCISA becomes ISCA

In 2003 NCISA underwent a name change to become the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA), while retaining the NCISA constitution.

With the new name ISCA increased the breadth of its representation of the sector in line with the expanding role of the Commonwealth Government in schools policy, participating in many national education committees.

Along with the new name, a logo for the organisation was designed for the first time (only the acronym had been used under previous names). It featured multiple circles to represent different school communities and isolating one of the first eight points was to highlight independence.

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The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians

In 2008, Australian Education Ministers in all States and Territories and the Australian Government developed and endorsed the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians 2008 in collaboration with the government, independent and Catholic school sectors.

The Melbourne Declaration, which builds on the Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century (1999) and the Hobart Declaration on Schooling (1989), provides a broad strategic framework and specific goals for individual schools, all school sectors, families, parents and the broader community to “position young people to live fulfilling, productive and responsible lives”.

It is a condition of their public funding that independent schools meet these community standards in education through a commitment to achieving the goals of the Melbourne Declaration.

The Melbourne Declaration was the first such national education declaration to explicitly address the growing influence of China, India and other Asian nations, and the new demands that these major changes would place on Australian education.

Australian Government and State and Territory Ministers of Education agreed that the capability to understand and engage with the diverse countries of Asia is a vital twenty-first century skill set and central to Australia truly being part of our increasingly interconnected region.

Not only does the Melbourne Declaration reinforce the importance of Australians becoming ‘Asia literate’ so as to engage and build strong relationships with Asia, but it also emphasises that the capability “to relate to and communicate across cultures, especially the cultures and countries of Asia” is vital so that all young Australians become ‘active and informed citizens’.

The Melbourne Declaration was superseded by the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration in December 2019.

The Melbourne Declaration can be read HERE

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Introduction of NAPLAN testing

NAPLAN, the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, was introduced in 2008 by the then education minister, the Hon Julia Gillard, and has since then become a very prominent part of Australia’s education landscape.

Conducted every May, NAPLAN is an annual national assessment for all students in Years 3, 5, 7, and 9. All students in these year levels are expected to participate in tests in reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and numeracy.

It was designed to provide parents and schools with an understanding of how individual students are performing at the time of the tests, as well as providing schools, states and territories with information about how education programs are working and which areas need to be prioritised for improvement.

Development of the National Assessment Program took place over many years, and was a time consuming and complex process for all school sectors.

During NAPLAN’s development ISCA worked closely with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in the development of the test and the reporting of results and to this day Independent Schools Australia remains closely involved across a number of working groups to contribute to national discussions around changes and improvements of this assessment tool.

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Building the Education Revolution

Between 2009 and 2011, the Australian Government made a substantial investment in capital infrastructure across all schooling sectors through the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program, in particular through the Primary Schools for the 21st Century element (P21) of the program.

BER funding had a significant and welcome short-term impact on capital grants provision for Independent schools. The P21 element of the BER funded 1,098 projects in 917 Independent schools for a total of $1.6 billion.

The benefits of the BER were increased in the Independent sector as additional funding was contributed to BER projects by Independent school communities. In the Independent sector, the BER initiative leveraged an additional $370 million in private contributions from Independent school communities towards BER projects.

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Mr Stephen Newton
Mr Chris Tudor
Dr Ken Evans
Mr Mark Porter

Executive Directors

Mr Fergus Thomson
Mr Bill Daniels



Launch of My School website

Launched in 2010 by then Education Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard, the My School website provides information about every school in Australia, including its financial resources, the background of its student cohort and NAPLAN results since 2008.

Offering more information and data about schools than had ever been publicly available before, My School had a major effect on families’ ability to exercise school choice. My School has been the subject of some controversy over its 10 years in existence and has been through multiple reviews and changes, the most recent major revamp taking place in early 2020.

ISCA dealt closely with ACARA during My Schools’ development and continued to monitor My School and provide feedback to ACARA on issues following the My School launch.

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Review of Funding for Schooling

In 2010, then Commonwealth Minister for Education, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, announced one of the most significant school funding reviews in Australia’s history. To be Chaired by Mr David Gonski AC, the review would encompass funding for both government and non-government schools.

While the announcement was broadly welcomed by the Independent sector, ISCA argued consistently during the Review that no independent school or student should receive less public funding in real terms than they currently receive.

On behalf of all its State and Territory Member Associations, ISCA lodged a major and wide-ranging submission to the Review, highlighting that any new funding model should be assessed against the following criteria: equity; incentive; flexibility; transparency; simplicity; predictability and consistency. Further that any funding model must rely on reliable, robust, up-to-date data that cannot be subject to manipulation or interpretation.

In what would become popularly known as the “Gonski Report”, the “Review of Funding for Schooling” was released in December 2011. It recommended that a new national funding model for all schools be based on a schooling resource standard with additional loadings to address educational disadvantage.

Over 2012 and 2013 ISCA and the AISs continued to work closely with the Government to bring about optimum outcomes for the Independent sector from the Review.

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The SRS funding model

In August 2012, speaking at the ISCA/ AHISA National Education Forum, Prime Minister the Hon Julia Gillard MP signalled the Government’s response to the Gonski Report. She announced that:

“Our funding model will recognise the diversity and uniqueness of Australian schools and will support the choices parents make about the best school for their child. That’s why our plans will deliver funding security for your schools. All students, regardless of school, will be funded on a consistent basis for the first time. Every independent school in Australia will see their funding increase under our plan.”

The Australian Education Act was passed in June 2013 and specified in detail the new funding model. It also details the compliance requirements for ‘approved authorities’, both individual schools and school systems.

Following a change of Government, the new funding model commenced in January 2014 but was designed to be phased in over many years under an extremely complex transition arrangement. It was significantly different to that envisaged by the funding review panel, in that it only applied directly to the approximately 900 non-systemic independent schools. The other 8,700 schools in Australia belonged to systems and the system authorities could decide how to distribute funding for their schools.

Under the new legislation, per-student funding was based on the Gonski recommended Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) which aimed to provide a base amount for all primary and secondary students and up to 6 needs-based loadings for student priority cohorts and disadvantaged schools.

Government schools were entitled to the full amount of the base SRS however the base SRS amount for non-government schools is adjusted according to a measure known as ‘capacity to contribute’.

Under the legislation non-government schools with a higher estimated capacity to contribute received less per-student base funding. The assessment of capacity to contribute was made using schools’ socio-economic status (SES) scores.

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Modifications to the SRS funding model

In 2017, Minister for Education and Training the Hon Simon Birmingham and Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP announced substantial amendments to the SRS funding model and to the Australian Education Act 2013.

Under the previous arrangements, schools’ funding agreements and transition timelines to their SRS were mixed, but these were all bought under a nationally consistent approach and a ten year transition period.

ISCA broadly welcomed the changes, and engaged in productive negotiations with the government on the details. The new arrangements came into effect in January 2018.

The changes were the subject of some controversy though, particularly from Catholic schools who raised concerns that the SES was not a fair measure of parental income, and it should be replaced with an alternative measure.

The Government later announced the establishment of a National Schools Resourcing Board as an independent body to advise the Minister. Its first role was reviewing the SES as a measure to determine capacity to contribute.

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National Schools Resourcing Board and the SES review

Alongside the announcement of the  2017/18 amendments to the SRS funding model, the Australian Government announced the formation of the National Schools Resourcing Board (NSRB). This was first recommended in the 2011 Gonski review and was established to provide greater independent oversight over Commonwealth school funding arrangements by undertaking reviews of different parts of the funding model.

The Board’s initial appointees included former ISCA Executive Director, Mr Bill Daniels AM.

The NSRB’s first review was in 2018 and examined the fairness of the SES as a measure to determine capacity to contribute. Out of this came the recommendation for the SES to be replaced with a Direct Measure of Income (DMI)methodology where parents’ capacity to contribute is measured based on their actual taxable income.

The development of the DMI was a sizable undertaking, and ISCA had the opportunity to give input to its development, including through a detailed submission to the Inquiry into the Australian Education Amendment (Direct Measure of Income) Bill 2020 [Provisions].

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The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration

The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration was endorsed by all Australian Education Ministers in December 2019. Mparntwe (pronounced M-ban tua) is the Arrernte name for Alice Springs. The Aboriginal Arrernte (pronounced arrunda) peoples are the traditional custodians of Alice Springs and the surrounding region.

This Declaration sets out the Ministers’ vision for education in Australia and their commitment to improving educational outcomes for young Australians. It builds on past declarations signed in Hobart, Adelaide and Melbourne, which have guided education policy over three decades. In developing this Declaration, Ministers heard from young people, parents, educators and the broader community about what is important to them.

Building on the goals of the 2008 Melbourne Declaration, the new Declaration was updated to meet the needs of today’s young Australians, placing detailed emphasis on addressing education gaps, as well as preparing students, from an early age, to thrive in a rapidly changing and challenging world in order to “[ensure] the nation’s ongoing economic prosperity and social cohesion”.

The Declaration’s vision is for a world class education system that encourages and supports every student to be the very best they can be, no matter where they live or what kind of learning challenges they may face.

The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration can be read here.

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Mr Mark Porter
Mr John Ralston
Mr Warwick Dean
Mr Steven Bowers
Mr Michael Jones OAM

Executive Directors

Mr Bill Daniels
Dr Yvonne Luxford
Ms Colette Colman
Mr Barry Wallett



Independent Schools


Independent Students

Enrolment share (*Figures from 2019 school census plus Catholic independent schools)


Implementation of DMI Methodology

Following two years of development, in April 2020 changes were made to the Australian Education Act 2013 to legislate the Direct Measure of Income (DMI) methodology and its use in calculating Capacity to Contribute scores.

With a phase-in period of two years, the DMI replaced the SES in determining parental income by using the personal tax data of parents and guardians to calculate the median income of families in a school.

The changes mean that many schools will see a change in their funding, with some experiencing a funding increase, and some a decrease.

During the DMI development, Independent Schools Australia consulted and provided substantial feedback to the Government and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. In addition, ISA and the Associations of Independent Schools undertook extensive financial modelling to determine which schools would benefit and which would require support to transition to a lower level of funding.

To help support transitioning schools, funding has been made available to the Independent Sector under the Choice and Affordability Fund, which is administered through the Associations of Independent Schools. As announced by the Minister for Education, a portion of this funding will be used specifically to assist regional and remote schools requiring transition assistance.

While the Independent sector generally regards the DMI as a more accurate measure of parental income than the SES, as schools move into the transition period Independent Schools Australia expects the methodology will require further refining in many areas. Independent Schools Australia will monitor its progress and continue to advocate, collaborate and inform on behalf of the sector.

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ISCA becomes Independent Schools Australia

With 2020 marking five decades of national representation of Independent schools, the national peak body for Independent schooling in Australia entered a new phase of its evolution, becoming Independent Schools Australia.

The name change follows a period of in-depth organisational review and it is intended to better reflect the national structure of the peak body and its eight state and territory members of Associations of Independent Schools. With the name change comes a new constitution, new governance, a new operating model, a new corporate look and a new CEO, with Ms Margery Evans commencing in September 2020.

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Michael Jones OAM

Executive Directors

Dr David Mulford
Ms Margery Evans