An independent school is a non-government school that is governed, managed and accountable at the level of the individual school. Its governing body is autonomous. Independent schools in receipt of Commonwealth / State funding are incorporated non-profit organisations.
However, some independent schools with particular church or ethnic affliations, although constituted independently, operate within a mutually supportive school system. As might be expected from such a description, independent schools are a diverse group.
The Independent schools sector is characterised by diversity. It includes large and small schools; single-sex and co-educational schools; primary and secondary schools, and those that offer education from pre-school through to Year 12; schools that cater only for day students and others that offer boarding facilities; new schools and schools with long histories and traditions; schools that promote differing educational philosophies; schools that welcome a broad range of students; and schools that cater for the needs of particular groups of students or address particular community interests and concerns.
Whilst many independent schools in Queensland have a particular religious affiliation, most schools do not require a student to be a member of that denomination. Some Christian schools are Parent Controlled Schools where a Christian-based curriculum is taught, whilst other Christian schools are more fundamentalist. Some independent schools are ecumenical, and have representatives from many faiths on their School's Board/Council.
However, Independent schools share some common characteristics. They are strongly committed to:
* providing a well-grounded general education;
* fostering students' moral and spiritual development;
* providing students with pastoral care; promoting discipline;
* catering to the needs, aptitudes and interests of the individual student;
* developing strong home-school partnerships; and
* achieving the best possible outcomes for all students.
Students and families
Like their schools, students who attend Independent schools are a diverse group. They come from a variety of social and economic backgrounds, and have a wide range of abilities, interests and needs. In recent years, they have included increasing numbers of overseas students.
It is generally believed that Independent schools encourage students with high academic ability to realise their full potential. Less well known is the fact that Independent schools also cater for the needs of children with other gifts and talents, and for children with disabilities and/or learning difficulties.
Families of students in the Independent school sector often have experience of other schooling sectors. Many families choose different schools for different children, to cater for their different needs, interests and abilities. Thus, what the families of children at Independent schools have in common is that they:
attach a high priority to their children's education; and
wish to educate their children at a school of their choice.
Today, most independent schools employ specially trained teachers to assist students with special learning needs. Schools offer programs and individual assistance not only to students with disabilities, but to 'gifted and talented' students as well by way of 'extension and enrichment learning programs'.
Students with special abilities in other areas such as the Arts, Sport, and Music are well catered for in independent schools and these subjects are usually integrated into the curriculum. In addition, many independent schools employ specialists to provide tuition and encourage participation in band and orchestral groups, choral and dance.
Post-compulsory Education and Training programs, including New Apprenticeships are offered to students in Years 11 and 12.
Many schools place a high emphasis on academic achievement, and some Queensland schools also offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma which is recognised for entry into overseas tertiary institutions.