The terms independent school and private school are often synonymous in popular usage outside the United Kingdom. Independent schools may have a religious affiliation, but the more precise usage of the term excludes parochial and other schools if there is a financial dependence upon or governance subordinate to outside organizations. These definitions generally apply equally to institutions of primary and secondary education. (Tertiary education is provided by universities rather than schools).
In Australia, independent or private schools are the fastest growing education sector, and over 90% of them have a religious or church affiliation. In 2015, there were 1,016 independent schools, catering for over 576,000 students in Australia. Some independent schools are prestigious, with enrolment highly sought after and tuition fees to match; however since the 1980s the number of low-fee schools catering for "average" Australians, and in some cases without any religious affiliation, has increased significantly.
Independent schools in Australia make up nearly 16% of total enrolments, while Catholic schools, which usually have lower fees, also make up a sizeable proportion (19%) and are usually regarded as a school sector of their own within the broad category of independent schools. Enrolments in non-government schools have been growing steadily at the expense of enrolments in government schools, which have seen their enrolment share reduce from 78.1% to 65% since 1970.
Australian independent schools differ slightly from those in the United States as the Australian Government provides funding to all schools including independent schools using a 'needs-based' funding model. This was previously based on a Socio-Economic Status (SES) score, derived by selecting a sample of parents' addresses and mapping these to various household income and education data points collected from the national census conducted every five years. In the last two years, after the Gonski Report, the funding formula was changed to compute individual school funding compared to a School Resourcing Standard. The SRS uses exam results from National Literacy and Numeracy tests (NAPLAN), calculates the SRS from a cohort of well-performing schools, and applies this formula to other schools on the assumption that they should be able to achieve similar results from similar funding. The funding provided to independent schools is on a sliding scale and still has a "capacity to pay" element; however, on average, funding granted to the independent school sector is 40% of that required to operate government schools, the remainder being made up by tuition fees and donations from parents. The majority of the funding comes from the Commonwealth Government, while the State and Territory Governments provide about one-third of the Commonwealth amount.
In Canada, independent school refers to elementary and secondary schools that follow provincial educational requirements but are not managed by the provincial ministry; the term independent is usually used to describe not-for-profit schools. In some provinces, independent schools are regulated by the Independent School Act and must offer a curriculum prescribed by the provincial government. Ontario has the most independent schools in Canada. These include Ridley College, Havergal College, Crescent School, St. Andrew's College, Columbia International College, The York School and Ashbury College. Examples of independent schools in British Columbia are Brentwood College School, Shawnigan Lake School, St. Margaret's School, and St. Michael's University School.