State’s rapidly shrinking elite schools


STUDENT numbers at some of Queensland's most expensive private schools are falling, with one prestigious college seeing enrolments drop by more than a third in just five years.

Analysis by The Courier-Mail using enrolment data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has revealed the student number decrease rate of every school in the state from 2013 to 2018.

Nine of the 20 most expensive schools in Queensland recorded a decline in student enrolments including Clayfield College, which saw their students numbers fall from 880 students to 565 students - a drop of more than 35 per cent.

Clayfield College Council chair Anne Bennett told the The Courier-Mail the executive was "aware of the enrolment issues", and was taking "positive action with a number of initiatives to address them".


Clayfield College’s student numbers dropped from 2013 to 2018.
Clayfield College’s student numbers dropped from 2013 to 2018.


Ms Bennett also said the school, which has been operating for almost 90 years, was well known in the community as "a small school with a big heart" and said students benefited from a low student-teacher ratio.

Outgoing Principal Kathy Bishop - who will depart at the end of the year after her resignation was announced in July - said there were signs of positive enrolment growth, with "strong numbers" enrolled for Year 7 in 2020.

"We are confident with the right planning that enrolments will grow steadily in the coming years," she said.

"Demographics in the suburbs around Clayfield have changed and the College has been proactive in addressing this situation.

"New bus routes will operate in 2020 to bring students to school from outer suburbs."

The school was currently going through a recruitment process for a new principal, with the school also set to release a Master Plan outlining its future requirements.

But Clayfield College was far from the only costly private school to have less students in 2018 than in 2013.

Other big schools to see declines over the five year period included St Paul's School in Bald Hills (which saw enrolments down 15.49 per cent), Moreton Bay College (6.82 per cent), John Paul College (6.29 per cent), Sheldon College (6.29 per cent) and St Peters Lutheran College (5.94 per cent).

But it wasn't all downhill for our top fee-paying schools.

Cannon Hill Anglican College has seen its student numbers soar by more than 38 per cent, from 853 in 2013 to more than 1180 in 2018.

And despite charging more than $26,000 in tuition fees for a Year 7 student, Brisbane Grammar School remains in demand with enrolments climbing more than 18 per cent from 1436 to more than 1700.

St Joseph's College Gregory Terrace (up 17.28 per cent), Brisbane Girls Grammar School (16.64 per cent) and St Margaret's Anglican Girls School (15 per cent) also saw significant jumps.