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Busting myths: Queensland families from all income levels choose independent schools

A new report released today has busted common myths about parental income and school choice, revealing Queensland families from all income levels choose independent schools.

The report also shows more than half of all families in the three highest income brackets with weekly income in excess of $2,571 choose free state education.

Commissioned by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ), the 2022 Income of Families with Students Attending Schools in Queensland reportis based on the latest 2021 Australian Census of Population and Housing data.

‘Accurate and objective picture’

ISQ Chief Executive Officer Chris Mountford [pictured below left] said by analysing the Australian Bureau of Statistics data, an accurate and objective picture of the income profile of Queensland families and their school choices was obtained.

“This report highlights a truth that is already well known within the sector: independent schools cater for families from right across the socioeconomic spectrum,” Mr Mountford said. “The diversity of schools across the Queensland independent sector is reflected in the parents, families and communities they serve.”

The report also showed Queensland independent and Catholic schools catered for similar proportions of families in the three lowest income levels at 10% and 11% respectively.

Schooling decisions about more than income

Mr Mountford said the report clearly revealed that families made decisions about schooling based on more than income.

“Parents take into account their own values and beliefs, what they can afford, and also for some, what other areas of their lives they will or won’t sacrifice for that choice,” he said.

“We know that choice is important to parents when deciding where they will send their children to school. This is reflected in the continued growth in Queensland independent school enrolments, with the sector now educating more than 140,000 students, or 16% of total enrolments across the state, the highest on record.”

Queensland’s independent sector is comprised of a diverse range of schools, from those with a particular faith or education philosophy, to those catering for Indigenous students, disengaged youth and students with disability.

The independent sector is also the main provider of boarding schools for rural, remote, and international families.


Report Key findings

  • Queensland independent schools serve families from every income level – from those with the lowest weekly earnings to the highest.
  • Nearly 16% (15.9%) of all students in Queensland schools attended independent schools in 2021.
  • Government schools educate the highest proportion of students whose families earn weekly wages that put them in the three highest income deciles (more than $2,571 per week):
    • Government schools catered for 54%
    • Catholic Schools catered for 26%
    • Independent schools catered for 20%
  • Independent and Catholic schools serve families with broadly the same financial profile and capacity to pay fees.
  • Of those students from families with incomes in the three lowest deciles (less than $1,625 per week):
    • Independent schools catered for 10%
    • Catholic schools catered for 11%
    • Government schools catered for 79%.

Read the full 2022 Income of Families with Students Attending Schools in Queensland.

This story was initially published on the ISQ website.