Region's independent schools boost COVID-19 recovery

FAMILIES educating their children at independent schools in the Toowoomba region are helping support almost 1900 jobs and more than $265 million in economic activity, according to new modelling.

The analysis, commissioned by Independent Schools Queensland and performed by AEC Group, found independent schools in Toowoomba, Southern Downs and the Lockyer Valley were important employment generators supporting 1,875 direct and indirect full-time jobs worth $164.3 million in wages and salaries.

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said the modelling revealed the influence and impact of independent schools extended beyond strong academic and civic outcomes.

"As communities and governments grapple with the economic fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new modelling reveals the critical role independent schools must continue to play to support jobs, build new social infrastructure, welcome fee-paying international students and build human capital," Mr Robertson said.

"In the current environment every dollar and job generated by independent schools are vital to the region's economic recovery in the short and long term."

Many parents made sacrifices in other areas of their lives to educate their children at independent schools, meeting half the operational costs, on average, with the Australian and Queensland governments contributing the remainder.

The analysis estimated Toowoomba independent school families who did not take up a fully funded place at a state school freed up $58.2 million of government recurrent and capital funding for other essential services, the equivalent of building almost 40 new classrooms and employing 590 beginning teachers.

"This report shows that encouraging private investment in education pays enormous dividends. The private-public partnership between tax-paying independent school families and governments is a successful and enduring partnership which must continue with the support of ongoing public investment," Mr Robertson said.

There are 7,301 students enrolled at 16 independent schools in the Toowoomba, Lockyer Valley and Southern Downs Local Government areas, according to 2020 state enrolment census data.

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