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New data highlights surging demand for Independent schools

Independent Schools Australia (ISA) yesterday launched new data at Northcross Christian School highlighting the growing demand for choice of schooling across North West Sydney.

Last year, enrolments at Independent schools increased by 6% in the electorate of Bennelong, almost double the NSW state average of 3.1%.

ISA said this statistic shows that despite being impacted by cost-of-living pressures, more parents are taking advantage of the diversity Independent schools offer as they decide on the best educational outcome for their child.

Northcross Christian School Principal Ms Catherine Horsburgh said the school received 200 kindergarten applications a year for 50 student places.

“We have a beautiful school that is providing a wonderful education for our students, but we can’t cater for the demand from the community. The families we can’t accommodate, who are seeking a similar schooling experience, will need to travel over 40 minutes to do so,” she said.

“We were established over 40 years ago and are a beloved part of the community. Our students achieve well above average across NAPLAN results, and we want to continue providing faith-based education for our community, and we need the government’s support to do this.”

Currently 86% of capital income used to build and upgrade facilities to accommodate more students comes from the parents and school communities at Independent schools.

Independent schools support significant numbers of students with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, as well as those with a language background other than English. Enrolment growth has been increasing at a higher rate than other sectors for many years.

“We have one of the most diverse and rapidly growing communities in the country, and ensuring we have excellent schools that provide quality educational outcomes for students is essential,” Ms Horsburgh said.

Former student Ms Rachel Dixon, who now sends her children to Northcross Christian School, said she has fond memories of her time at the school when she was a child.

“Choosing a school that reflected my family’s values was essential to us,” Ms Dixon said.

“For our family, like many in our community, we feel the pressures with the cost of living and make sacrifices to send our children to Northcross. For us, paying our school fees is as essential as health insurance. Our children have opportunities to learn and grow at Northcross and are supported in a way that really brings the best out of them which is all we could ever hope for as parents,” she said.

CEO of Independent Schools Australia Mr Graham Catt said choice is important to parents across Australia.

“However, within this North West Sydney region, there is limited choice for parents when it comes to options for their children’s education,” Mr Catt said.

“Northcross Christian School is in a thriving area of Sydney, and we support the right of parents throughout Australia to choose which school they send their children to, including if they are seeking a faith-based community and education,” he said.

Mr Catt reiterated the importance of meeting the growing demands of the community.

“In a growing city like Sydney where demand for affordable housing, secure employment and educational opportunities is rapidly rising, supporting established schools to meet the demands of their community will continue to be a top priority for us.”

“We will continue working with the Australian Government to ensure that Independent Schools are supported to continue delivering strong outcomes for students and the communities in which they operate,” Mr Catt said.

Key Facts
• Demand for student growth for independent schools increased by 6% in Bennelong versus NSW state average of 3.1%
• Over the past 50 years, the Independent sector enrolment share has risen from 4% to 18 %
• There are more than 110,000 students enrolled in 143 Independent special and special assistance schools across Australia which cater to students with disability and other needs
• 1 in 6 students are enrolled in an Independent school
• 83% of Independent schools have a religious affiliation
• 1 in 3 Independent schools are located outside capital cities

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