What is an Independent School?
Independent schools are a diverse group of non-government schools serving a range of different communities. Many Independent schools provide a religious or values-based education. Others promote a particular educational philosophy or interpretation of mainstream education.
The 10,000 students attending independent schools in Tasmania come from a wide range of backgrounds. As a sector, independent schools provide an education for all students, and serve a diverse range of communities.
Tasmanian independent schools include:
- Schools affiliated with Christian denominations, for example Anglican, Quaker, Lutheran, Uniting Church, Seventh Day Adventist and Presbyterian
- Non-denominational Christian schools
- Steiner schools
- Schools with unique educational philosophies
- Schools that specialise in meeting the needs of students with identified needs
- Schools that cater for students at severe educational risk due to a range of social/emotional/behavioural and other risk factors (Special Assistance Schools)
Independent Schools serve a diverse range of communities across Tasmania
Value of Independent Schools
Independent schools enjoy an excellent reputation within the Australian schooling system. They are known for their sound leadership, quality education and innovation.
Independent schools serve a diverse range of communities and each vary in terms of the communities they serve, alongside their size and student population. Diversity is a key feature and strength of the independent schooling system, and this diversity is celebrated in a unique way within each school context.
Independent schools are in both city and rural areas and feature small and large day schools and boarding schools, alongside co-educational and single-sex schools. They are set up and governed on an individual school basis and are answerable to their own governing board or management committee.
Despite COVID-19 the Independent sector has grown by 2.5% in the last 12 months
Independent Schools enjoy an excellent reputation and are sought after for their academic outcomes for students. Their depth and breadth of academic offerings ensure students are given the optimal environment in which to learn.
In 2020, 49 TCE students from independent schools achieved a Tertiary Entrance Score (TER) in the top 100 of Tasmanian TCE students. Of the 640 Year 12 students at Tasmanian independent schools, 92% achieved the TCE (compared to 76% in all school sectors) and 82% achieved an ATAR (compared to 44% in all school sectors). However, independent schools are also recognised for their pastoral care for students and for developing social and citizenship skills.
In 2020, Tasmanian independent schools employed 923 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers and 584 FTE other staff. The student to teaching staff ratio in Tasmanian independent schools was 12.8 for primary (compared to 13.9 government schools and 15.4 Catholic schools) and 9.5 for secondary (compared to 12.5 government schools and 12.1 Catholic schools).
Of the 640 Year 12 students that went to Tasmanian independent schools, 92% achieved the TCE and 82% achieved an ATAR
Teaching in Tasmanian Independent Schools+
Any person wanting to teach in a Tasmanian school, college or the TasTAFE must have registration or a limited authority to teach (LAT). This registration is provided through the Teachers Registration Board (Tasmania).
Registered teachers are required to:
- have appropriate teaching qualifications
- communicate in the English language at a professional level
- be of good character and fit to teach
- observe a code of professional ethics
- continue to participate in professional learning to build knowledge, skill and competence.
There are two main registration types for Tasmanian teachers:
- Teacher Registration
- Specialist Vocational Education and Training Registration
To apply for registration, information can be found here
The IST Team are able provide support to schools in order to assist with any queries pertaining to teacher registration processes. Please contact our friendly team of consultants for any advice or support.
Registration to Work with Vulnerable People+
All Tasmanian teachers and Limited Authority to Teach holders are required to hold current Registration to Work with Vulnerable People (RWVP) (also referred to as Working with Children check) with the Department of Justice, Tasmania.
Tasmanian teachers and Limited Authority to Teach holders record their Registration to Work with Vulnerable People (RWVP) details in their TRB Online account and their RWVP status is automatically validated by the Department of Justice. Tasmanian teachers and Limited Authority to Teach holders must ensure their RWVP does not expire by undertaking the RWVP renewal approximately 6 weeks prior to their RWVP expiry date.
The Office of Tasmanian Assessment, Standards and Certification (TASC) is an independent statutory office responsible to the Tasmanian Minister for Education and Training.
TASC is responsible for the development of appropriate standards, the accreditation of courses, and the assessment and certification of student achievement in senior secondary schooling across all educational sectors in Tasmania.
Information pertaining to TASC can be located here
The IST Team are always happy to assist with queries pertaining to the senior years of schooling. Please contact us via the contact links for further assistance.
Boarding in Tasmanian Independent Schools+
Boarding is a great option for families who live some distance from a local school, or who value the many benefits that boarding school life can bring to a young person. Boarding offers a supportive home in an educational environment where students can blossom. With access to great facilities and learning opportunities, boarding offers a whole education that empowers young people to recognize their own unique potential. To find out more about Boarding opportunities within some of our schools, take the time to explore the schools' section on the homepage of our website.
In Tasmania there are 6 independent schools with boarding facilities. They are:
- Fahan School (girls)
- Hutchins School (boys)
- St Michael’s Collegiate School (girls)
- The Friends’ School (coed)
- Launceston Church Grammar School (coed)
- Scotch Oakburn College (coed)
All 6 schools are registered with CRICOS (Commonwealth register of institutions and courses for overseas students).
In total there are approximately 280 boarding places available.
All boarding and international student enquiries should be directed to the individual schools.
Why Choose an Independent School?+
Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions a parent will make. In making this decision, there will be many factors for you to consider. Typically, in searching for a school, you will seek to find some alignment with your own personal beliefs, values and/or religious affiliations, alongside the specific needs of your child. Our independent Schools across Tasmania offer a depth and breadth of offerings and these can, in the first instance, be explored through their respective websites. Once you have narrowed down some options, we encourage you to visit our independent schools to see for yourself how they operate on a day-to-day basis. Schools typically offer tours and open days, so that you can meet them in person.
The Financial Value of Independent Schools+
Independent schools contribute value to the Tasmanian and Australian economy
Like IST, all independent schools are not-for-profit entities. Any surplus must be reinvested in the school.
The Independent school sector relies primarily on parents to fund schools, with 54 per cent of recurrent income coming from private sources. It has been estimated that if all Tasmanian independent school students were to move to the public system it would cost governments an additional $57 million per annum.
In addition, through fees and donations, parents and donors provide around 90 per cent of capital funding for Independent school buildings, grounds and equipment, thus making valuable contributions to employment in the local building and maintenance industries and in other suppliers of goods and services to schools.
The fact that parents value independent schools is evidenced by enrolment growth statistics. In 2020, despite the financial challenges from COVID-19 faced by many families, Tasmanian parents continued to choose independent schools for their children. In 2020, Tasmania’s independent schools recorded their fourth consecutive year of growth in student numbers.
In the four years from 2016 to 2020, full time equivalent student enrolments in Tasmanian independent schools increased by 785 (8.55%) to 9,969 — an enrolment share of 12.2% in 2020 with record enrolment shares of 14.8% at the Secondary level and 10.1% at the Primary level.
How independent schools are funded+
Although Independent schools depend primarily on private sources for their recurrent income, government funding is a significant and necessary component of the income of all Independent schools in Tasmania.
In Australia’s federal system of shared responsibilities, the Australian Government has taken the primary role in providing government funding for non-government schools, while state and territory governments are the primary source of support for government schools. Conversely, state and territory governments generally contribute much lower levels of funding to non-government schools, and the Australian Government provides a lower share of the government funding for government schools.
Australian Government Recurrent Funding - SRS Funding Model
The SRS funding model funding model was introduced in 2014 under the Australian Education Act 2013 for Australian Government funding for all schools. Under the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) funding model Australian Government recurrent funding is provided as a base grant with additional loadings aimed at addressing disadvantage.
- Size (to take account of the particular circumstances of small schools
- Location (based on Accessibility/Remote Index of Australia (ARIA))
- Socio-Educational Disadvantage (this applies to the lowest 50 per cent of students using the Socio-Educational Advantage quartiles which are a component of the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA))
- Students with disability (using the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability)
- English language proficiency (Disadvantaged LBOTE)
- Indigenous students
The SRS funding model has been amended several times since 2014 with the most recent changes being introduced in 2020 in relation to the ‘capacity to contribute’ (CTC) methodology.
The per student base funding component of the funding model is based on the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), intended as a measure of the cost of effective and efficient provision of schooling. The SRS is a measure of the resources used by a sample of high achieving schools, identified by their performance in the National Assessment program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) and excludes any measure of disadvantage.
SRS funding has been indexed annually from 2018 to 2020 by 3.56% and from 2021 indexation moves to a floating measure of 75% Wage Price Index and 25% Consumer Price Index with a floor of 3%.
Capacity to contribute
The SRS base funding amount for non-government schools is adjusted according to a measure of ‘capacity to contribute’. Schools with a higher SES score receive a lower level of per capita base funding.
Some non-government schools, such as special schools, special assistance schools, majority indigenous student schools and remote ‘sole provider’ schools are also entitled to receive the full SRS per student amount. In Tasmania there is one independent special school (Giant Steps)and there are two independent special assistance schools (Capstone and Indie School).
Prior to 2020, capacity to contribute was solely determined by a measure of the school community’s socio-economic status (SES) based on the ABS Census of Population and Housing.
From 2020 a new methodology for calculating CTC is being phased in over three years. The new Direct Measure of Income (DMI) methodology uses the personal tax income data of parents and guardians to calculate the median income in a school which is used to determine the CTC score for a school.
The new methodology for calculating CTC scores requires the collection of the names and addresses of students’ parents and guardians from non-government schools every year which are then provided to the Commonwealth Department of Education as part of the student address collection.
These names and addresses are then linked to personal income tax records in the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP), a secure ABS data environment which enables linkages between large government data sets.
The phase-in arrangements mean that schools are being funded on the basis of ‘best-of’ 2011 Census SES scores, 2016 Census SES scores or DMI scores in 2020 and 2021 with all schools transitioning to DMI scores in 2022.
From 2018 the SRS funding model aimed to transition all schools to the same amount of Commonwealth funding for the same students. For non-government schools, the Commonwealth share was set at 80 per cent of SRS. Non-government schools currently funded below 80 per cent Commonwealth share were intended to transition up to 80 per cent of SRS over six years to 2023. Non-government schools funded above 80 per cent Commonwealth share were intended to transition down to 80 per cent over 10 years to 2027.
The changes to CTC in 2020 amended the transition pathways for schools which take into account the move to DMI CTC scores. Schools transitioning up will still complete their transition in 2023 however schools transitioning down will complete their transition in 2029.
New schools will be funded by the Commonwealth at 80 per cent of SRS plus relevant loadings for disadvantage.
While all loadings are to be fully publicly funded, they are subject to the transition arrangements.
State Government Recurrent funding
Under the SRS funding model, the Commonwealth will fund Independent schools at 80 per cent of the SRS with the Tasmanian Government funding the remaining 20 per cent of the SRS based on the bilateral agreement negotiated between the Tasmanian Government and the Australian Government.
The State share of SRS is being transitioned down to 20% for all Tasmanian independent schools by 2023.
The Tasmanian Government has indicated that it will not move to the DMI based CTC scores but will retain the current SES based CTC scores.
The Independent Block Grant Authority of Tasmania (ISBGAT), a subsidiary of IST, administers the Australian Government Capital Grants Program (currently in the order of $1 million pa) and the Tasmanian Government Capital Assistance Program. (currently in the order of $0.5 million pa).
How independent schools are governed+
IST not a system authority as each independent school is fully autonomous and separately accountable to its parents and community.
Independent schools are set up and governed on an individual school basis, connected directly to their community and answerable to their own governing board or management committee.
Self-management is the distinguishing characteristic of Independent schools, differentiating them from government schools, which are owned and managed by the state government, and Catholic systemic schools, which are operated by the Catholic education authority.
In their governance arrangements, Independent schools are expected to meet the standards of social and financial accountability applying to corporate entities or charities. Independent school boards or councils are responsible for making sure their schools meet these standards. They play a key role in ensuring schools are accountable, particularly in matters of self-regulation. Nationally, school governors represent one of the largest volunteer bodies in Australia. More than 10,000 people who come from every walk of life are members of Independent school boards or councils.
How independent schools are regulated+
The main legal and compliance obligations of Tasmanian independent schools arise under the:
- Australian Education Act and Regulations
- Tasmanian Education Act, Regulations and Ministerial Instructions
- School Registration Standards
- Child Protection Legislation
- Teachers Registration Act
Australian Education Act and Regulations
In the Australian Education Act the basic requirements for approved school authorities are set out in sections 75 and 78 of the Act and the associated Regulations. They set out the requirements for the structure of approved authorities, not for profit, financial viability, spending of Australian government funding and record keeping requirements.
Approved authorities are required, in cooperation with the state department of education, to implement nationally agreed school reform policies.
Approved authorities are also required to implement policy requirements as set out in section 77 of the Act, including:
- implementing the Australian Curriculum, or a curriculum with comparable outcomes recognised by ACARA.
- ensuring their schools participate in the National Assessment Program, including NAPLAN.
- ensuring their schools participate in the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD).
Tasmanian Education Act, Regulations and Ministerial Instructions
The Tasmanian Education Act requires all non-government schools to always comply with the School Registration Standards. Other major compliance obligations are set out in two sections of the Act and in four Ministerial Instructions.
The Act can be accessed here
The Ministerial Instructions can be accessed here
School Registration Standards
When applying for renewal of registration, a school must demonstrate to the Non-Government Schools Registration Board via the Office of the Education Registrar that it complies with each of the Standards:
Guidelines for re-registration of a non-government school set out for each standard:
- What the school must demonstrate
- What evidence needs to accompany the application
- What the school may be requested to provide
The Guidelines can be accessed here
Child Protection Legislation
Drawing on the work of the Royal Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission developed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations over 2017-2018. The National Principles reflect the Royal Commission’s Child Safe Standards, with a broader scope that goes beyond child sexual abuse to cover other forms of harm to children and young people.
Tasmanian legislation to implement these principles and standards is now being drafted and will be introduced in 2021. The Non-government Schools Registration Board is also updating its Student Welfare Standard and Guidelines for schools in 2021.
Teachers Registration Act
The Teachers Registration Act contains several sections that require compliance by schools. They relate to the employment of teachers, actions regarding conduct of teachers and supporting the movement of teachers from provisional registration to full registration.
The Act can be accessed here
The regulatory authority for the Teachers Registration Act is the Teachers Registration Board of Tasmania