The NSW Minister for Education, the Hon Rob Stokes MP, today launched Independent Schools: Building for the Future, an initiative of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW) to help independent schools contribute to the education of a rapidly growing population.
Dr Geoff Newcombe AM, Chief Executive of AISNSW, said NSW Government projections anticipated an additional 270,000 students for NSW in the next 15 years – of which 70,000 will be enrolled in independent schools.
“This requires a coordinated and collaborative response and our initiative Independent Schools: Building for the Future is aimed at starting the discussion, identifying options and supporting our member schools into a period of unprecedented levels of enrolments,” said Dr Newcombe.
To commence the initiative, two research papers were released – a report commissioned from McCrindle Research to determine the projected demand for new independent school infrastructure, and a survey undertaken by AISNSW to determine capacity to absorb new enrolments within existing or expanded infrastructure.
Dr Newcombe said the reports had found the following:
· By 2031 there will be an additional 270,000 school aged students, with 70,000 of these expected to attend independent schools. This growth in the school education sector over the next 15 years will be three times greater than the growth rate of the last 15 years.
· This increase represents enrolment growth in the independent school sector of almost 35% between 2016 and 2031 based on current market share, and up to 38% with a marginal increase in market share during that period.
· Growth among the school age population to 2031 is expected to be highest in Sydney’s main urban centres – with Camden, Parramatta, Sydney, Strathfield and the Hills Local Government Areas all expecting growth of more than 50% in the number of young people aged between 15-19 years old.
· Most of the demand for independent schools is expected to be in areas serving communities in the lower socio-economic range, with 70% of the demand likely to be met by low fee independent schools.
· A survey of 345 independent schools across NSW found that 76% of independent schools are currently planning to accommodate an additional 61,400 students through the expansion of existing schools, either on current sites or through the establishment of new schools and campuses.
· Capital development of at least $5.2 billion will be required to build new learning spaces and other support infrastructure to accommodate the extra students beyond what is currently planned for.
· The notional savings to the NSW Government for the capital expenditure over this 15 year period will likely be in excess of $5 billion if the independent sector is able to accommodate the additional students.
· The cumulative operational savings to the NSW Government due to enrolments in independent schools is estimated to be in excess of $46 billion thanks to the contribution of private funds and donations.
“We are ensuring that independent schools meet these future challenges and continue to be a significant contributor in educating students across NSW,” said Dr Newcombe.
Dr Newcombe said Independent Schools: Building for the Future will also incorporate a number of other elements designed to help Independent schools access the necessary infrastructure funding required.
“The next phase in the initiative is to help schools develop innovative partnerships to cover the costs of building high quality learning spaces.”
In launching Independent Schools: Building for the Future, Minister Stokes said the NSW Government needed non-government schools to take their share of enrolments to lessen the burden on the NSW taxpayer and to ensure parents continued to have a choice of schooling options.
“The magnitude of population growth in this State and the resulting demand for school enrolments requires a planned and visionary response from schooling providers, whether they be government, independent or Catholic schools.
“The infrastructure we need for the next 10 to 20 years must be built now so it is a great pleasure to be working closely with the Independent schools sector on this critical issue for the NSW Government and the whole community,” Minister Stokes said.