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Parental confidence in Queensland independent schools continues to strengthen with new data showing sector enrolments grew by 4.5% between August 2019 and 2020 to more than 130,000 students.

The independent schooling sector’s share of Queensland’s 856,686 school-age children in 2020 grew to 15.2%, up from 14.9% in 2019, according to analysis of new schooling data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

Queensland independent schools enrolled an additional 5,583 (4.5%) students in Prep to Year 12 in 2020, taking total student enrolments to 130,138. This was well above the combined state average of 2.8% and the strongest growth rate of the three schooling sectors in Queensland (state schools 2.3%, Catholic schools, 3.1%).

Independent Schools Queensland Executive Director David Robertson attributed the enrolment surge, in part, to all Queensland schools returning to full year levels in 2020 after the state’s smaller-than-usual group of foundation Prep students finished Year 12 at the end of 2019.

Mr Robertson said the data also confirmed the value parents place on school choice.

“Despite the disruptions and uncertainty created by the pandemic independent schools showed their communities how quickly they could move their high-quality learning programs online,” he said.

“Independent schools also made every effort through fee relief, regular check-ins and wellbeing support, to minimise the impact of the pandemic on student learning.”

Analysis of the ABS data also showed the following changes to Queensland’s independent schooling sector between 2019 and 2020:

  • Independent school numbers grew by 10 to 221 in 2020
  • Secondary enrolments in the independent sector rose by 6.1% to 72,550 students (19.2% share of all Queensland secondary students)
  • Independent primary enrolments rose by 2.6% to 57,588 students
  • Despite the number of all school-age Prep children in Queensland dropping by 0.8% in 2020, Prep enrolments in independent schools increased by 2.6% to 7,776 students
  • Independent special schools (which include Special Assistance Schools for disengaged and at-risk students) grew from 24 to 30 in 2020.

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