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New ISQ CEO signals focus on expanding school choice to meet interstate migration demand

Creating more school choice for new and existing Queensland families is a key goal for Independent Schools Queensland’s new Chief Executive Officer Christopher Mountford.

Mr Mountford said the latest 2021 student enrolment data showed parental confidence in the independent sector was at an all-time high as more families continued to seek out bespoke schooling options for their children.

“Almost 6,200 additional students commenced at Queensland independent schools this year, compared with the start of the 2020 school year – an increase of 4.8%.  This is the biggest annual increase in 14 years, when the Prep Year was introduced across Queensland, and positions the independent sector as the fastest growing in the state,” he said.

Demand for independent schools increasing

Independent schools now enrol 15.5% of all school-age children in Queensland, an increase of 0.5% on 2020.

Mr Mountford said according to 2021-22 Budget papers Queensland received 30,000 net interstate migrants in 2020, with another 85,000 expected over the next four years.

“The flow-on effects for independent school places are already being felt with demand outstripping supply in some areas. If more private investment, land and new school proponents aren’t identified and supported to meet this demand, school choice will be eroded, and governments will foot an even greater bill to accommodate and teach these additional students,” he said.

New opportunities and partnerships to be explored

“Based on my experience in the property sector – having spent 12 years at the Queensland Property Council, including seven as its Executive Director – I am keen to explore new opportunities and partnerships that foster the development of more independent schools to meet this projected demand, particularly in key growth corridors.

“There is an opportunity to bring the views of schools, the property sector and government together around the delivery of new schools.”

Wishing families well for Term 3

With lessons resuming for most schools today, Mr Mountford wished the sector’s 135,000 independent school students and its almost 17,000-strong workforce every success for Term 3.

“I’m looking forward to getting out over the coming weeks and months to meet a cross-section of independent schools that encapsulate the incredible diversity of education approaches, environments and students the independent sector caters for,” he said.

“Independent Schools Queensland has an outstanding reputation for supporting schools and an excellent reputation as an advocate to government, so I think it’s a really exciting time to join the organisation. I’m looking forward to continuing to support its growth in the future.”