As a sector Independent Schools are diverse in nature, they provide for students of all abilities - including an increasing number of students with special needs - from all social and ethnic backgrounds. They provide quality schooling for a wide range of communities, including some of Western Australia's most remote and disadvantaged Indigenous communities, communities in regional towns and cities and diverse communities in Perth.
Many Independent Schools espouse a religious or values-based education, while others promote a particular educational philosophy.
What it means to be an Independent School in Western Australia
Independent Schools have been so named in Australia and recognised under this name for many years. AISWA was formed well over 50 years ago to represent the interests of Independent Schools in Western Australia. AISWA is a member of Independent Schools Australia which represents the interests of all Independent Schools in Australia.
In recent years the Western Australia Government has introduced a category of schools within the government sector referred to as “independent public schools”. The use of the word independent has created confusion and a blurring between genuinely Independent Schools and those now referred to as “independent” in the public sector.
The reality is that independent public schools have limited autonomy. Such public schools do not have the power to fully self-determine their operations. They are obliged to meet teacher awards (the Department of Education State Agreement) and workplace entitlements, and are subject to a range of department policies and accountability requirements. These public schools have no separate legal status.
On the other hand the following list illustrates some of the distinctive features of genuinely Independent Schools:
- Each Independent School has legal status in its own right. Each school is separately constituted under its own constitution.
- Independent Schools are owned and operated by a separately constituted association or organisation and as such, determine the strategic directions of the school whilst meeting all legislative requirements. Some Independent Schools are part of a small system within the sector and these have an independent governing body that makes determinations for the schools in that small system.
- Independent Schools are separately registered by the Minister of Education and must have a constitution that outlines the structure roles and responsibilities of the governing body.
- The governing body of an Independent School is responsible for the strategic planning for the school, the selection and support of the principal and the financial viability of the school.
- In an Independent School it is the school’s governing body that is ultimately responsible for the welfare of students and the school and ensuring the school meets the standards required by the Education Act.
- Independent Schools develop their own behavioural management and discipline policies that suit the needs and culture of their school and the community they serve.
- Many Independent Schools have their own Enterprise Agreements (EAs) and others work under the conditions of the State Independent School Teachers’ Award (1976) or the Federal Educational Services (Teachers) Award (2010).
- Independent Schools develop their own culture, ethos and values system that is reflective of each Independent School’s belief structure.
Economic Significance of Independent Schools
In 2016, the Board of AISWA commissioned the development of the report, the Economic Significance of Independent Schools to the Western Australian Economy. This report has been updated to reflect the most recently available (2018) financial data on schools. As can be seen from the report Independent Schools, while providing choice for families and high-level educational outcomes, also contribute significantly to the WA Economy. The updated report and a one-page infographic are now available via the following links - Economic Significance of Independent Schools to the WA Economy - One-Page Infographic.
Please contact individual schools to obtain applicable term dates. As a guide, attendance dates for students enrolled in Western Australian Department of Education (DoE) schools can be found on the Department of Education’s website. Independent Schools may vary these dates to suit their own students' needs.