Low birth rate to slow Catholic school sector growth

The effects of the declining birth rate will start to kick in over the next five years with Catholic sector enrolments tipped to decline marginally by 2010, according to an Independent Schools Council analysis.

An analysis by the Independent Schools Council of Australia released on Wednesday, also suggests public schools will be hit hardest by the drop in enrolments and will continue to lose students to the private sector, The Age reports.

The report says enrolment growth in the independent schools sector has already started to slow, and the trend will increase competition between schools and between the public and private sector.

Despite the forecast slump in the overall school population, the report says independent schools will still experience growth, albeit at slower rates.

The independent sector includes religious, community and non-denominational schools, grammar schools, special schools and some independent Catholic schools, but does not generally include the Catholic sector.

"As a result of Australia's declining birth rate, growth in the independent schools sector will continue, but at a slower rate over the period to 2010," the report says.

"Projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that the Australian school population as a whole will start to decline from 2008.

"As growth in the school population slows, and then declines, it is projected that by 2010 the (independent) sector's enrolment growth rate will be 1.7 per cent, with an annual average growth rate over the period 2005-10 of 2.3 per cent."

Catholic sector enrolments were tipped to fall by 0.1 percentage points to 18.5 per cent over the same period.

The fastest student growth in the 10 years to 2005 was in Islamic schools, whose enrolments grew by 14.5 per cent a year despite their comparatively small market share, the report said.

Low birth rate to hit school enrolments (The Age/AAP 19/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Independent Schools Council of Australia

Catholic schools benefit from flight to private schooling (CathNews 4/7/06)
Even more teenagers flocking to private schools (CathNews 24/2/06)
Parents pick private schools religiously (CathNews 15/12/04)

20 Jul 2006