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There are 12.4% more students studying at home through accredited distance education programs in Queensland independent schools than there were prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and 52% more than five years ago.

Distance education enrolments in the independent sector have risen by 434 full-time equivalent students to 3,925 enrolments between 2020 and 2021 and by 1,347 students since 2016, according to an analysis of non-government school census data collected in February.

There are currently 10 Queensland independent schools enrolling distance education students – up from seven schools in 2016.

There are now more students studying by distance education in Queensland independent schools than there are students enrolled in boarding schools. At the start of the 2021 school year, there were 3,493 boarding enrolments in the sector.

Leaders and teachers from these independent school distance education providers will discuss the challenges and opportunities of distance education delivery at a forum hosted by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) today (Tuesday 24 August).

ISQ Chief Executive Officer Chris Mountford said apart from Queensland’s seven schools of distance education operated by the Department of Education, the independent sector was the only other provider of accredited distance education services for families with school-age children.

“Four independent schools have been educating distance education students for more than a decade, giving them a significant headstart when learning moved from the classroom into the family dining room during Queensland’s first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020,” Mr Mountford said.

Mr Mountford said the COVID-19 pandemic home learning periods had proven that not only can schools successfully deliver learning remotely and online, but that some students prefer to learn from home.

“There is strong interest within the independent sector to further investigate hybrid models of learning, best practice teaching and learning strategies in these environments and the regulatory frameworks that would enable schools to offer blended learning options,” he said.

**** ABC Brisbane covered the growth in distance education enrolments in the independent sector. Read the story here.

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