About AISNSW


The Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales is the peak body and membership association supporting and representing Independent education, specifically Independent schools in NSW and ACT.


Our Purpose

We believe in the excellence and opportunities that come with choice, diversity and independence in education.

AISNSW serves and champions Independent schools. 


How we work

We are member-focused serving the diverse needs of schools.

We act with integrity demonstrating respect and discretion.

We have expertise working together to provide high-quality advocacy, guidance and services.

We are forward-looking, anticipating future needs in a fast changing world.

We go above and beyond, passionate about our work, and committed to excellence. 

We also work with governments, statutory authorities and various educational stakeholders on behalf of over 511 Independent schools and campuses, their boards, principals and heads, executives, teachers and support staff. These schools educate over 228,600 children from the increasing number of families choosing independent education.


What we stand for

Independence of schools to make decisions that best serve their students, staff and community.

Choice for parents in schooling options that reflect their values and enable their child to thrive.

Funding for every student so that all Australian children can access a quality education.

AISNSW Service Model 

Whatever your school’s independent vision, culture and ethos, AISNSW can partner with you, when you need it, so you can deliver outstanding teaching and learning for your students now, and in the future.


The diversity of the NSW Independent school sector

Our members are NSW and ACT Independent schools of varying sizes, geographic locations, religious affiliations and educational philosophies.
Sector Snapshot

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.

School Funding Made Simple

How are schools funded by government in Australia?
Find out more

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 schools in New South Wales in 2020-21 (the most recently available figures) amounted to $21,923 per government school student and $11,610 per Independent school student (*2023 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 $2.8 billion per year. 

Roles and Services

As the peak body for independent schooling in NSW, AISNSW advocates for and represents the interests and needs of all independent schools.
Access Services & Support Directory

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

  • provides a comprehensive range of services and resources to schools who are members of AISNSW
  • 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

AISNSW 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 Structure of our Organisation

The Board includes a number of observers representing key school-based stakeholder groups from the independent schools sector
Explore history of AISNSW

AISNSW is a not-for-profit organisation governed by a Board of directors. Ten of these are elected representatives of member schools and up to 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)
  • Association of School Business Administrators (NSW) Inc (ASBA NSW)

In addition, several councils are convened to direct and guide the activities of several critical areas of AISNSW operations such as the Advisory Council, Regional Advisory Council and the Education Research Council. These councils also hold observer status on the AISNSW Board. On a day-to-day basis the operations of AISNSW are managed by the Chief Executive, an executive team and a secretariat made up of approximately 140 professional and support staff. AISNSW is also assisted in a wide range of functions, including the administration of government programs, by the Block Grant Authority. 


Applying for Membership to AISNSW

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 Directorate  
  • be a not-for-profit incorporated body.

In addition, AISNSW 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 AISNSW. Individual persons are not able to become members of AISNSW.

Enquiries about AISNSW membership and requests for application documentation should be directed to Douglas Melrose-Rae at AISNSW on 9299 2845.

AISNSW Strategic Plan 2024 - 2026

Our Strategic Plan 2024 - 2026 unpacks our Purpose, How we work, What we stand for and Our strategic goals

Our Strategic Goals


01. Champion Independent Schools 

1.1. Promote a positive narrative to increase awareness and understanding of the Independent sector.

1.2. Implement an advocacy and stakeholder engagement strategy targeting issues important to NSW Independent schools, particularly state and federal government funding.


02. Deliver exceptional services 

2.1. Continually enhance intake services to respond to the immediate and urgent needs of member schools.

2.2. Deliver impactful professional learning for school staff, leaders and governors to connect, educate and build capability.

2.3. Co-design bespoke services to meet the individual and group needs of member schools.

2.4. Pursue services and partnerships that add value by meeting schools’ current and emerging needs.

2.5. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of AISNSW’s processes and communications


03. Grow our people

3.1. Instil a ‘one team’ culture, providing opportunities for our people to share, connect and collaborate.

 3.2. Build the capability of our people by supporting their growth and development to lead themselves, others and the organisation.

3.3. Optimise internal processes so that AISNSW is a great workplace and our people can do their jobs efficiently and effectively.