The Association of Independent Schools of NSW is the peak body supporting and representing independent education, specifically independent schools, through offering services in:

  • advice and consultancy
  • professional learning
  • funded programs and projects
  • support for students with diverse needs
  • research and data
  • advocacy and partnerships.

We also work with governments, statutory authorities and a wide range of other educational stakeholders on behalf of over 480 independent schools, their boards, their principals and heads, their executive, their teachers and support staff. These schools educate over 200,000 children from the increasing number of families choosing independent education.

Our Members

Our members are NSW and ACT independent schools of varying sizes, religious affiliations and educational philosophies. In recent years we have expanded and diversified to meet the increasing demand for our services from independent education providers across Australia and globally.

What characterises our member schools is their diversity. Unlike other sectors, the majority of independent schools operate autonomously and are separately accountable to their parent and school communities.
With the core values of integrity, professionalism, respect and collegiality AISNSW seeks to further the ideals of independent education: choice, diversity, quality, opportunity and excellence.

School Funding (Recurrent)

How are independent schools funded? 

Independent schools receive funding from both state and Australian governments on a student per capita basis.  State governments have primary responsibility for funding government (or public) schools, while the Federal Government directs most of its schools funding to non-government (Catholic and independent) schools. 

According to the Productivity Commission*, total state and federal government funding to non-government schools in Australia in 2012-13(the most recently available figures) amounted to approximately $11 billion, while government schools received approximately $37 billion.  On a per student basis, in the same year independent schools attracted, on average, $8,812 per student in government funding while students in government schools attracted $15,703 each. (*2015 Productivity Commission Report on Government Services) 

On average, independent schools receive the majority of their income (approximately 60% overall but this amount varies from school to school) from fees, donations and fundraising within the school community.  The remainder of their income comes from government recurrent (annual) grants and through targeted programs, such as those that assist students with special needs including disabilities, those from non-English speaking backgrounds or indigenous students. 

Across all non-government schools (independent and Catholic), parents contribute more than $6 billion per year in the form of tuition fees and donations.  The independent schools sector is estimated to save governments approximately $2.5 billion per year. 

Some additional information and facts and figures about school funding are available from the 'Useful Documents' section on this page.

AISNSW Executive Staff

A list of the AISNSW Executive Staff is available to all logged in contacts from member schools. 

Role and Services

As the peak body for independent schooling in NSW, the AIS advocates for and represents the interests and needs of all independent schools — member and non-member — across the state. The AIS:

  • provides a comprehensive range of services and resources to schools who are members of the AIS 
  • advocates to government and through the media for the cause of independent schooling  
  • promotes unity of purpose within the independent sector 
  • liaises with governments and other peak education bodies to represent the views and needs of independent schools 
  • administers government programs on behalf of independent schools 

The AIS provides a range of high quality professional services and support to member schools in a range of areas, including:

  • school governance
  • employment relations
  • professional development
  • government policy and regulation
  • school evaluation and review
  • administration and delivery of government programs


The AIS is a not-for-profit organisation governed by a Board of 15 directors. Ten of these are elected representatives of member schools and five are appointed by directors.  The Board includes a number of observers representing key school-based stakeholder groups from the independent schools sector, including nominees from: 

  • the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA - NSW/ACT Branch)
  • Headmasters' Conference (HMC)
  • the Association of Heads of Independent Girls' Schools (AHIGS)
  • Heads of Independent Co-Educational Schools (HICES)
  • the Bursars’ Association of NSW (BANSW)

In addition, several councils are convened by the Board to direct and guide the activities of several critical areas of AIS operations such as the Independent Schools Centre for Excellence Council, the Combined Independent Schools Sports Council and the Education Research Council.  These councils also hold observer status on the AIS Board.On a day-to-day basis the operations of the AIS are managed by the Executive Director, an executive team and a secretariat made up of approximately 100 professional and support staff.The AIS is also assisted in a wide range of functions, including the administration of government programs, by the Block Grant Authority. 


To be eligible for membership of AISNSW, an independent school must:

  • be located within NSW or the ACT (case-by-case basis) 
  • be registered to operate as a school by NESA or the ACT Education and Training Directorate 
  • be a not-for-profit incorporated body 
  • abide by the relevant industrial legislation in relation to staffing matters.

In addition, the AIS takes an interest in the governance structures of schools with a view to encouraging good practice in educational and financial management.

Schools that satisfy the above criteria are eligible to apply for membership of the AIS.  Individual persons are not able to become members of the AIS.

Enquiries about AIS membership and requests for application documentation should be directed to Michael Carr at the AIS on 9299 2845.


In representing the diverse voices of the independent schools sector, the views of the AIS are based on the following principles: 

  • that parents have the right to choose the schooling that they wish for their children
  •  that funding of children in independent schools should be provided under the principles of a funding entitlement for all children, plus additional support based on needs
  • that each independent school community has the right to have their ethos and values reflected in the nature and individual characteristics of their school, and
  •  that each independent school has a right to exercise its independence through its ethos and the values reflected in the natures and characteristics of its school community.