Private Schools in Australia

In Australia many of our children attend private schools They can be in the city or in the out back and there are many private schools all over the country catering for the boarders from the bush.

The private school system in Australia is widespread and continues to attract a large percentage of the schooling population. Private schools in Australia form one of the two types that are available - the other being the state-run schools, also commonly known as public schools. However, as a result of British heritage, sometimes private schools are referred to as Public Schools - as in the Associated Public Schools of Victoria and the Greater Public Schools (GPS), which are private school groups.

More generally, the term 'public school' usually relates to a state-run school.

There are many reasons for choosing private schools in Australia: these include social prestige and status; quality facilities, such as well-stocked libraries, playing fields and infrastructure that may include a swimming pool, as well as extra-curricular cultural activities (eg, music lessons, chess, and debating).

As well, private schools are often perceived as having fewer disciplinary problems with stricter control over the behaviour of the students. This control also extends to an enforced dress code as most private schools have formal requirements, such as a uniform, and this may include a blazer.

Another perception of education in private schools is that their teachers are better paid and that they offer education which is of higher quality. Many of these schools also offer facilities to reduce the possibility of distraction, such as single-sex schools and boarding facilities.

Although the private schools in Australia charge fees for the enrolled pupils, they also receive some government funding. Nonetheless they are still more expensive than the state-run schools.

For many of the private schools, sport is considered an integral part of the education they provide, believing that it encourages the development of personal qualities such as leadership, teamwork, social skills and motivation. The GPS schools (for boys) in New South Wales and Queensland also encourage sports not widely available in other schools and considered to be of traditional value, such as Rugby and Rowing.

The private schools in Australia fall into two main catgories: the Independent Schools and the Catholic school system.

Independent Schools

Like the Catholic Schools, these are independent of most government control, although with some government funding they cannot claim to be totally independent. The independent schools also offer the most popular facilities for boarding pupils.

A number of the independent schools - especially the larger, better known ones - are part of established religious bodies - Angican, Presbyterian, Uniting Church or Jewish. However, there are many smaller schools which are either not affiliated with a religious group or with one that has a smaller base in Australia, such as Islam. Importantly, in most cases, these schools do not insist on religios allegiance and the bigger schools, especially, educate students of many faiths.

The larger schools in this category, for instance, Kings, Trinity, Sydney Grammar (for boys) and PLC, Abbotsleigh and Ascham (for girls) are considered to be 'elite' schools and are usually expensive and emphasise traditional values.

The smaller independent schools are often new and many are not at all traditional in their approach to education.

Catholic Schools

After the government-run schools, these are the second largest sector of schools in Australia. They have around 21% of enrolments in secondary (high) schools.

Most of the Catholic schools form part of a system of schooling which has low fees, receives substantial government (State and Federal) funding and is usually co-educational. The systemic Catholic schools offer religious-based educational values but do not exclude pupils of other faiths. Nonetheless, most staff and pupils will be Catholics.

There are also independent Catholic schools which are outside the Catholic school system. These are usually single-sex schools that were set up by Catholic religious orders, such as Christian Brothers, Marist Brothers, Patrician Brothers, and the Sisters of Mercy. Their fees will vary - for instance, Pius X has a lower fee structure than St Ignatius College, Riverview and St Josephs College (Hunters Hill).

There is a similar range for girls' schools: fees at Roseville College tend to be structured at a lower level than those charged by Loreto and Kincoppal. However, there are often concessions and scholarships available to Catholic families with lower incomes.