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Enrolment Momentum Continues at Qld Independent Schools

Improved interstate migration, steady economic growth and ongoing parental demand for school choice have contributed to independent school enrolments recording their highest growth rate in almost 10 years.

According to analysis of February 2019 Non-State School Census data, enrolments at Queensland independent schools increased by 2.3% or more than 2,700 students to 123,647 enrolments in 2019.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) Executive Director David Robertson said this was the highest annual percentage growth rate since 2010 and the largest of any schooling sector between 2018 and 2019.

Mr Robertson provided independent school leaders with an overview of enrolment and economic trends as well as an update on school funding and policy directions at the launch of ISQ’s annual Executive Director’s Strategic Briefings Series in Brisbane yesterday.

The Brisbane event is the first of 12 briefings Mr Robertson is giving to independent schools across the state over the next three weeks.

Mr Robertson said the 2019 enrolment data showed strong increases in the important intake years of Prep (3.3%) and Year 7 (6.5%) which were positive indications of the future health of the sector.

“In addition, in 2020 statewide school enrolments are expected to record a spike after the smaller than normal cohort of Year 12s graduate at the end of this year,” he said.

“In total there are about 40,000 Year 12s this year, which is about 10,000 less than the average number in Year 12. This smaller number is the result of Queensland’s school starting age changing in 2007 when the Prep year was introduced,” he said.

“From 2020, all Queensland schools will have a full cohort of students at every year level. As a result, the independent sector could expect to see about an extra 2,000 students on top of regular annual growth.”

Mr Robertson said independent school numbers had also risen substantially, increasing from 180 in 2012 to 211 in 2019.

“Thirty-one new independent schools have opened in Queensland since 2012. In addition, a number of existing schools have opened new campuses,” he said.

“Most of the new schools are more bespoke in nature, ranging from Special Assistance Schools catering for disengaged and at-risk young people to Special Schools, small community schools and industry-based schools.”

“Diversity, not uniformity, is what defines Queensland’s independent schooling sector; diversity of faith, philosophy, location, size and students. From Cooktown in Queensland’s Far North, to the NSW border, independent schools of all sizes span the state,” he said.

Mr Robertson said parents valued the range of tailored education approaches offered by independent schools.

“ISQ’s 2018 What Parents Want survey revealed the top five reasons why parents choose independent schools are: they prepare students to fulfil their potential in later life; the quality of teaching expertise; their ‘fit’ with their child’s individual needs; good discipline; and their teaching methods/philosophy,” he said.

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