Independent Schools

Diversity in NT Independent Schools

'Independent Schools in the Northern Territory are a diverse group of Non-Government Schools serving a range of different communities. Many Independent schools in the Northern Territory provide a religious, cultural or values-based education. Others promote a particular educational philosophy or interpretation of mainstream education'.

What is an Independent School in the Northern Territory?

An Independent School is a non-government school that is governed, managed and accountable at the level of the individual school.  The governing body of an Independent School is autonomous.

There are some Independent Schools with particular church or educational philosophy that, although constituted independently, operate within a mutually supportive school system. The Lutheran Education South Australian, Northern Territory, Western Australia (LWSNW) and the Northern Territory Christian Schools (NTCS) are school systems within the Independent Schools Sector of the Northern Territory.

The Independent Schools Sector in the Northern Territory is made up of different groups or small systems of schools as well as many individually operated schools. Independent schools vary widely in size from small very remote schools with as few as 50 students to large provincial schools with more than 1000 students. Independent schools are located in all areas of Northern Territory.

Debunking Common Myths about Independent Schools

There are many popular misconceptions about Independent schools. 

There are many popular misconceptions about Independent schools. This page examines some of the most commonly repeated myths, and provides some up-to-date facts. For more detailed information see the individual sections of About Independent Schools.

The Northern Territory Independent Schools Sector is known for its diversity.

Independent Schools are located throughout the Northern Territory.  There are schools in the busy centres of Darwin, Palmerston and Alice Springs, and schools in remote and very remote locations. 

There are Independent Indigenous Community Schools (IICS), religious schools that are systemic, schools that adhere to particular educational philosophies, and schools with differing structures and emphases. All Independent Schools in the Northern Territory are fully committed to student-centred education and the wellbeing of children.

Approaches to curriculum and assessment are diverse. Many schools offer the NTCET, but Haileybury Rendall School delivers the Victorian Certificate of Education. The Essington School is accredited as a Cambridge International School and provides international curriculum from the United Kingdom’s Cambridge Institute from junior primary to senior secondary level. Good Shepherd Lutheran College offers the International Baccalaureate (IB). Students at the Early Learning Centre are introduced to the IB approach, preparing them for its use through later years of schooling.

Milkwood Steiner School and The Alice Springs Steiner School follow the educational philosophy of Rudolph Steiner. Northern Territory Christian Schools deliver the Australian Curriculum with a Christian emphasis. 

The Territory is diverse, all students are valued for their difference, this is reflected in our Independent Schools.

'The school should not be limited by the four walls of the building.  The school is situated wherever the learning occurs,  It is far more than the individual, we must work to build trust and dialogue in order to promote engagement, motivation and connectedness.  Social capital involves honouring that a community is made of many people at many stages.  We need to make it about conversation, not consultation.  See, Feel, Change is a more effective approach than Analyse, Think, Change'.
- George Otero (2017)

Aboriginal Independent Community Schools

The four Aboriginal Independent Community Schools (IICS) in the Northern Territory provide demonstrable evidence of Aboriginal Australians' commitment towards quality education. These schools are located in remote and very remote communities throughout the Northern Territory.  They include Pickertaramoor, on Melville Island, Alice Springs, West Arnhem Land, Yulara, Docker River and Imanpa.

The schools are autonomous and do not operate as part of a system. Each Aboriginal Independent Community School has an Aboriginal governing body responsible for staffing, curriculum, school buildings, staff houses and financial accountability. Notwithstanding their obligations to comply with the Education Act (NT) 2015 and national education policy initiatives, these schools are independent of government and belong to the communities they service.

Success in Aboriginal Independent Community Schools is due to their capacity to deliver mainstream education in an environment where learning is nurtured by cultural identity, traditional language and a sense of belonging to place. This has led to improved literacy and numeracy results for students in these schools. Community well-being and social functioning is also an important product of these schools.

The Aboriginal Independent Community Schools in the Northern Territory are:

Non-denominational Christian Schools

'At our Christian schools, we provide an environment of encouragement and unity, inspiring students to strive to reach their full potential. Through this nurturing environment, we seek to help build and strengthen their personal identity in Christ'.

Northern Territory Christian Schools

NT Christian Schools is an Independent School system that has been delivering high quality, Christ-centred education in a wide variety of contexts in the Northern Territory since 1977. 

As a distinctive organisation, it seeks to serve God through contextualised education, training and care from a Biblical perspective for all students, including those who are not served well by the traditional education system, in the Christian Schools it manages.

There are seven Christian Schools in the Northern Territory:

Schools that promote a particular educational philosophy

Steiner Schools

'Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.  The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility - these three forces are the very nerve of education' - Rudolf Steiner

Steiner schools have a unique and distinctive approach to educating children, aiming to enable each stage of growth to be fully and vividly enjoyed and experienced.  They provide a balanced approach to the modern school curriculum.  The academic, artistic and social aspects, or 'head, heart and hands' are treated as complementary facets of a single program of learning, allowing each to throw light on the others.  This is implemented by using art as a practice, and language to develop the feelings, by nourishing the children with the rich heritage of wise folk tales, histories, fairy stories, poems, music and games that are part of the world civilisation.  This creates the cultural atmosphere in which the children are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, nature study, geography, science, languages, music and other subjects.

Steiner designed a curriculum that is responsive to the developmental phases of childhood and the nurturing of the child’s imagination in a school environment. Steiner thought that schools should cater to the needs of the child rather than the demands of the government or economic forces, so he developed schools that encourage creativity and free-thinking. His teaching seeks to recognise the individuality of the child and through a balanced education, allows them to go into the world with confidence.

Steiner Education is a deeply insightful application of learning based on the Study of Humanity that helps develop consciousness of self and the surrounding world. Steiner’s perception that although external conditions in our time are changing as never before, the essential nature of humanity remains; in particular, the stages of human development through childhood follow a natural pattern unaffected by short term social change. The task of educators remains to prepare children for an unpredictable future by nurturing healthy development ‘from the inside’, to provide the right nourishment at each stage of physical, emotional and spiritual growth.

There are two Steiner Schools in the Northern Territory:

Schools affiliated with Christian Demoninations

Uniting Church

  • St Philip's College is a Uniting Church co-educational Boarding and Day School in Alice Springs for students in Years 7 - 12.

Lutheran Church of Australia

Three Northern Territory Independent Schools belong to the Lutheran Church of Australia and are affiliated with Lutheran Education SA, NT & WA. They are:

Other Independent Schools