The recently released annual snapshot of the NSW independent schools sector shows that the independent sector is undergoing positive transformation, writes CRICHTON SMITH

NSW Independent Schools at a glance 2018 is the recently released annual statistical snapshot of the sector. The graphs, and the data behind the graphs, point to an emerging growth in primary education, and expanding socio-economic and religious diversity within the sector.

Strong Enrolment Growth
The NSW independent sector had strong growth last year, with growth in primary schools ahead of the systemic Catholic sector, and secondary growth larger than the systemic Catholic and Government sectors combined. The increase in independent primary enrolments was larger than the secondary increase – reflecting the growing number of children being born; the growth of newly established Independent schools that are predominately primary; and established independent schools expanding their primary grades. The largest growth areas in Sydney are in south-west and outer south-west Sydney.  Outside of Sydney, it is the mid and far-north coast with the largest growth in independent school enrolments.

Increasing Diversity
Enrolments increased in schools of Anglican, non-denominational, Islamic, Christian, and independent Catholic religions and philosophies, reflecting the growing religious pluralism in the NSW independent schools’ sector.  Half the growth in enrolments last year were in low socio-economic score (SES) schools, and a further quarter of the growth was in mid-range SES schools.

Image courtesy of Macquarie College, Wallsend

Last year’s growth in the independent sector isn’t a ‘one-off’, as the sector’s enrolments have been steadily growing for the past decade.  The increasing number of parents choosing independent schools, and contributing $2.5 billion a year in school fees reflects positively on what the independent sector offers – choice and diversity.  That parents increasingly choose independent schools as the first choice for children at an earlier age reinforces the strengths of the sector.

Header image courtesy of Georges River Grammar, Georges Hall