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.

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 AISNSW Member Schools

Our members are NSW and ACT independent schools of varying sizes, geographic locations, 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. 

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.

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

AISNSW 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 AISNSW 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 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 100 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 Purpose, Principles and Values

Our core values are integrity, professionalism, respect and collegiality.

The AISNSW Purpose, Values and Principles statements keep our organisation focused on the reasons for our existence.

  • To promote equity of educational opportunity in NSW independent schools so that all students can reach their potential, regardless of background or personal circumstances.
  • To advocate for the rights of NSW independent schools and their communities to ensure they are able to offer choice, diversity and excellence in education to the whole community.
  • To provide high-quality services that support NSW independent schools to deliver the best possible education and outcomes for students.
  • To support innovative and inspirational leadership in education in independent schools and within the wider education community.

In representing the diverse voices of the independent schools sector, the views of AISNSW 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, and
  • that each independent school community has the right to have their ethos and values reflected in the nature and individual characteristics of their school.