Snapshot 2019 is ISCA’s latest annual release of key facts and statistics about the Independent school sector. Now in its 14th year of publication, the ISCA Snapshot is a well-regarded and highly valued resource, with facts and figures compiled from rigorous analysis of a range of Government data sources.
THE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL SECTOR
INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS IN AUSTRALIA
Characteristics of the sector include:
- a significant and growing share of Australian students
- schools that have strong community links
- a diversity of schools in terms of type, size and focus
- autonomous governance arrangements
- a comprehensive range of accountabilities of schools to parents, governments and other stakeholders
- giving parents choice by providing a wide range of educational programmes and settings
- Independent schools are not-for-profit organisations.
Size of Independent sector 2018
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data does not categorise independent Catholic schools as Independent. These schools are a significant part of the Independent sector and when included there were a total of 1,140 schools and just over 617,008 full-time equivalent students in 2018.
Profile of Independent schools
Unlike other sectors, the majority of Independent schools operate autonomously. Independent schools do not rely on central bureaucracies or authorities and are separately accountable to their parent and school communities. Some Independent schools with common philosophies operate within approved systems. These include Anglican, Lutheran and Seventh Day Adventist Systems. There are also some other groupings of Independent schools. All Independent schools comply with state and federal legislation and regulation.
School Size 2018
- 12% of schools have less than 50 students
- 37% of schools have less than 200 students
- 43% of schools have 200 – 999 students
- 18% of schools have 1,000 – 1,999 students
- 2%, or 22 schools, have 2,000 or more students
- the average size of Independent schools is 528 students
- the average size of a government school is 384 students
Location of Independent schools 2018
Affiliations of Independent schools 2018
84% of all Independent schools have a religious affiliation.
*’Other Religious Affiliations’ include Churches of Christ, Ananda Marga, Hare Krishna and Society of Friends
**’Other’ includes special schools, international schools, Indigenous schools, and community schools.
School enrolments by sector and level 2018
Enrolments in Independent schools 2018
*More information on the levels of adjustment for Students with Disability are available at www.nccd.edu.au
Enrolment change by sector 1970 – 2018
Growth in enrolments 1985 – 2018
INDEPENDENT SCHOOL TEACHERS
Independent schools employ nearly 17% of all teachers in Australian schools.
Teachers in the Independent sector by gender and level (FTE) 2018
Student teacher ratios 1973 – 2018
Sources: Figures in Snapshot are derived from data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, and the Productivity Commission. Depending on the availability of data, enrolment figures are either full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE). Some figures include independent Catholic schools and enrolments. Some figures may not add due to rounding. Figures for the Independent school sector are for the calendar year 2018.
HOW GOVERNMENTS FUND INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
SOURCES OF INCOME FOR INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
The proportions of private/government funding vary greatly from school to school.
Estimated recurrent savings to governments from the Independent school sector:
$4.5 billion p.a.
Public funding of Independent schools
Responsibility for the public funding of schools is shared by the Australian Government and state and territory governments. State and territory governments are the main public funding source for government schools. The Australian Government is the main public funding source for non-government schools, providing 76% of total government recurrent funding for Independent schools while states and territories provide 24%.
Recurrent funding for school education 2016-17
Average government recurrent funding per student 2016-17
Total government recurrent funding per student 2016-17 (all government sources)
The amount of funding received from all government sources varies significantly depending on the circumstances of the school.
Australian Government funding from 2019
In 2017 the Australian Government announced changes to the ‘Gonski’ funding model which had been in place since 2014. Further changes were announced in 2018. The current funding model aims to transition all schools to a set share of Commonwealth funding. For government schools, the Commonwealth share is 20% of their SRS entitlement and for non-government schools the Commonwealth share is 80% of their SRS entitlement. Schools transitioning up to 80% will complete their transition in 2023. Schools transitioning down to 80% will complete their transition in 2029. New schools go straight on to their calculated SRS funding entitlement.
The ‘SRS’ Funding Model
The core components of the SRS funding model remain largely unchanged, comprising base funding plus loadings to address educational disadvantage. The per-student component is based on the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) which aims to measure the cost of effective and efficient provision of education.
The loadings in the model are for:
- School location,
- School size,
- Socio-educational disadvantage,
- Low English language proficiency, and
- Students with Disability.
Once fully implemented, loadings will be fully publicly funded.
‘Capacity to Contribute’
One feature of the funding model which only affects non-government schools is ‘capacity to contribute’ (CTC), which means that the amount of base funding they receive is dependent on their schools’ community’s estimated capacity to pay fees. Currently, CTC is determined by the school’s Socio-Economic Status (SES) score utilising area-based data from the ABS Census of Population and Housing. Schools with a higher SES score receive less per capita base funding.
The SES methodology was reviewed in 2018 by the National School Resourcing Board. The Board recommended that the area-based methodology be replaced with a direct measure of CTC based on parental income tax data. Work on this new measure is currently underway. It is intended that the new measure of CTC will be phased in from 2020 to 2022.
State and territory funding contributions
In addition to setting the Australian Government share of SRS for all schools, the legislation also places requirements on state and territory governments in relation to school funding. State and territory governments are required to fund government schools to at least 75 – 80% of their SRS and to fund non-government schools to at least 15 – 20% of their SRS, at the sector level. The specific settings for each state and territory are subject to bilateral agreements between the states and territories and the Australian Government.
Parents and Donors
On average, parents and donors in Independent school communities in 2017 contributed 90% of funds for capital developments, such as school buildings, grounds and equipment.
Main sources of capital funding in Independent schools 2017
Capital Grants Program
Independent committees called Block Grant Authorities in each state and territory administer capital grants for non-government schools on behalf of the Australian Government. In 2018 it is estimated that grants for the Independent sector totalled approximately $58 million. In the Independent sector Australian Government capital grants are distributed on a needs basis, with priority given to disadvantaged school communities with the least capacity to raise funds.
State and Territory government assistance
In Queensland some capital grants for Independent schools are provided by the state government. Several state and territory governments also provide interest subsidy arrangements.
Note: Funding figures in Snapshot use the latest available data which is for the financial year 2016-17, or for the calendar year 2017.
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