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Parental confidence in Queensland independent schools continues to strengthen with new data showing sector enrolments grew by 4.5% in the 12 months between August 2020-2021 to more than 136,000 students.

The independent schooling sector’s share of Queensland’s total 867,347 enrolments in 2021 also grew to 15.7%, up from 15.2% in 2020, according to an analysis of new schooling data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

According to the ABS data, Queensland independent schools enrolled an additional 5,852 full-time and part-time students in 2021, taking total student enrolments to 136,083. The 4.5% growth in Queensland independent schools was well above the combined state average of 2% and the strongest growth rate of the three schooling sectors in Queensland (state schools 0.2%, Catholic schools 1.5%).

Independent Schools Queensland Chief Executive Officer Chris Mountford said the continued increase in enrolments emphasised the confidence parents were placing in the independent sector.

“2021 proved to be a year of significant disruption for a lot of Queensland schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite these disruptions and uncertainty, independent schools proved their flexibility and responsiveness to adapt,” Mr Mountford said.

“Independent schools have shown their capabilities throughout these past few turbulent years by taking every measure possible to minimise the impact on student learning.

“This goes a long way towards influencing parents’ decisions when deciding where their children go to school, and parents are clearly placing greater stock in the value of choice and diversity when it comes to their child’s education.”

Analysis of the ABS data also showed the following changes to the independent schooling sector between 2020 and 2021:

  • Queensland independent school numbers grew by six to 227 in 2021.
  • Total enrolments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland non-government schools (including Catholic schools) increased by 8.3% to 13,679 students.
  • Full time equivalent staff at Queensland independent schools increased by 6.5% to 16,730.
  • Nationwide over the past five years, independent schools had the largest increase across all three sectors with 11.4%, followed by Government schools with 3.9% and Catholic schools with 2.6%.


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