Catholic schools benefit from flight to private schooling

More than one in three Australian students will attend a private school - either independent or Catholic - by 2010, a new study from the Independent Schools Council of Australia predicts.

The Age yesterday reports that the figures confirm a considerable shift of Australian students from government to independent schools over the past 35 years.

Independent school enrolments have surged from 4 per cent to almost 13 per cent since 1970. Over the same period, government school enrolments have dropped by 11 per cent and Catholic school numbers have increased by 2 per cent.

The report predicts that in five years, the independent sector will have 16.6 per cent of enrolments, Catholic schools 18.5 per cent and government schools 64.9 per cent.

The report, released last week, also predicted that the decline in the school-aged population will make competition between sectors more fierce.

The report - Independent Schooling in Australia - found that 60 per cent of independent school income comes from private sources, largely through fees charged to parents. The remainder comes from federal and state government funding.

The report found the ratio of full-time students to staff at independent schools was lower than at government and Catholic schools at 14.2.

Launching the report, Treasurer Peter Costello said parents had the right to choose which school they sent their children to, and they are "voting with their feet, or in this case with their enrolments."

Public exodus confirmed (The Age, 3/7/06)

Parents pick private schools religiously (CathNews 15/12/04)
Even more teenagers flocking to private schools (CathNews 24/2/06)

4 Jul 2006