Independent schools could overtake Catholic system

Catholic Schools NSW says the Catholic sector has a 20 per cent share of enrolments when systemic and independent Catholic school numbers are added together (Bigstock)

Independently run schools are expected to overtake the Catholic system as New South Wales’ second-biggest education sector in two years, projections show. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

By Jordan Baker, Sydney Morning Herald

Under projections from the Department of Education, the NSW public system will maintain its 65 per cent share of students, adding more than 72,000 enrolments to bring total numbers to almost 900,000 by 2029.

Catholic systemic schools’ share will drop from 17.6 to 16.8 per cent over the same period, while the proportion of students enrolled in independently-run schools – which include 46 independent Catholic schools – is expected to increase from 17.1 per cent to 18.6 per cent.

The data shows enrolments at independent schools will surpass those at Catholic systemic schools for the first time in 2022, by 3000 students.

Independent schools receive their recurrent funding directly from government and are managed by their own board, while Catholic systemic schools – local parish primary schools and the secondary schools into which they feed – are run by the local diocesan schools office.

Catholic Schools NSW argues that the longstanding distinction between systemic and independently-run Catholic schools should be dropped. A spokesman said the sector had a 20 per cent market share when Catholic schools were grouped together.

“The [independent] sector will not overtake the former anytime soon, and definitely not by 2029,” he said. “In any case, transfers between systemic and congregational Catholic schools have always been a common feature, so long as the students stay within the ‘Catholic family’.”

Across the country, Catholic systemic schools are expected to remain the second-biggest school sector in 2029, although their share of enrolments will drop from 18 per cent to 17.4 per cent.

The projections did not take into account the potential impact of COVID-19 on the capacity of families to pay for private schooling.


Independent schools to overtake Catholic system as second-biggest sector in NSW (Sydney Morning Herald

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