CAS, GPS, IAS, AHIGS, HICS, CSSA – What do they mean?

One of the features of Private Independent schools is the range of extra-curricular opportunities.  Private Independent schools have formed associations based on shared values, historic or geographic connections. The roles of the Associations is to offer interschool  and representative sport, extra-curricular disciplines and professional development amongst its members.  Member schools from different associations can compete against each other depending on the sport, in addition, membership of schools in the various associations may change over time.  In this article we will identify the Associations connecting independent schools in NSW and demystify some of the acronyms associated with Private Independent schools in NSW.

The historic connections of a number of schools, interschool sporting rivalry and the school culture of including sport disciplines (rowing, rugby, cricket, swimming, athletics, water polo, hockey, netball) as one of the development pathways for their students, in part, has elevated the prestige of a number of Associations and the respective member schools.  There will be similar associations of private independent schools in other States of Australia.


There are 30 independent Girls Schools in the Association of Heads of Independent Girls’ Schools, AHIGS.  AHIGS aims to encourage communication, co-operation and collegiality amongst the Heads of independent girls’ schools in NSW and to advance the cause of education of all children in Australia, especially girls.  The member schools include: Abbotsleigh, Loreto Kirribilli, Loreto Normanhurst, Ascham School, Queenwood, Ravenswood, Pymble Ladies College, Brigidine College, Monte Sant’ Angelo, Kincoppal Rose Bay, PLC Sydney, MLC School, Tara, Kambala, Meriden School.  One of the roles is to provide sporting activities for the students of members’ schools.

Associated Schools of New South Wales or Committee of Associated Schools (CAS)  share common interests, ethics, educational philosophy and contest sporting events between themselves. The member schools include: St. Aloysius College, Barker College, Cranbrook School, Knox Grammar School, Trinity Grammar School and Waverley College.

The Great Public Schools of New South Wales (GPS) are an association of boys schools in NSW that contest sporting events amongst themselves.  The members of GPS includes: The King’s School, Sydney Grammar School, Newington College, Saint Ignatius’ College, St Joseph’s College, Sydney Boys High School, Sydney Church of England Grammar School (SHORE), The Scots College, The Armidale School.

The Independent Schools Association (Australia) (ISA) is a grouping of independent schools located in and around Sydney, for the purposes of sporting competitions.  The members include Blue Mountains Grammar School in Wentworth Falls, Central Coast Grammar School in Erina, Chevalier College in Bowral, Oakhill College in Castle Hill, Oxley College Bowral, SCEGGS Redlands in Cremorne, St Andrews Cathedral School in Sydney, St Augustines College in Brookvale, St Patricks College in Strathfield, St Pauls Grammar School in Cranebrook, St Pius X College Chatswood, St Spyridon College in Maroubra, St Stanislaus College in Bathurst.

The Christian Schools Sports Association (CSSA) consists of primary & secondary schools within the Christian Education National (CEN), Christian Schools Australia (CSA) and other independent Christian Schools. It is an association which has been formed to foster Christian thought and practice through sporting events within and between Christian Schools. There are 78 member schools in CSSA including primary and secondary schools.

The Heads of Independent Co-educational Schools (HICES) consists of secondary schools in Sydney and throughout NSW who offer a learning environment for boys and girls.  Combined events which are organised include interschool swimming, athletics, debating, music and a range of professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators.

The Independent Primary School Heads of Australia  has branches in each State.  The NSW branch has 125 member primary schools across the state, encompassing single sex, co-educational, denominational, non-denominational, metropolitan, regional and rural schools including many of the primary campuses of the schools belonging to CAS, GPS, IAS, CSSA and HICES .  Students in member schools have access to events including:  Performing Arts Festivals, Debating and Public Speaking, Social Issues Expos and Teacher Forums, Travelling Art Exhibitions, and a wide range of Saturday Sport activities, sporting carnivals and pathways to higher levels of sporting representation.

Just to make things a little more complicated the private secondary independent schools associations collaborate through the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AIS).  In particular they use the NSW Combined Independent Schools Sports Council (CIS) to arrange representative sporting events drawing from students in the respective Independent Associations to compete against Government High School Associations and Catholic School Sporting Associations at a state or national level.

The NSW Combined High Schools Sports Association provides opportunities for secondary students at Government High schools to participate in competitive sport as the state and national level.

The Catholic Schools Sports Services (CSSS) through the Secondary school program, NSW Combined Catholic Colleges Sports Association (NSWCCC) and the Primary school program, NSW Catholic Primary Schools Sports Council (NSWCPS) provides an opportunity for students attending the Catholic systemic schools to participate in interschool and representative competition. NSWCPS is further divided into two regional divisions Mackillop(Archdiocese/Diocese of Canberra/Goulburn, Parramatta, Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong) and Polding(Diocese Armidale, Bathurst, Broken Bay, Lismore, Maitland/Newcastle and Wilcannia/Forbes).

There are a number of regional private independent schools associations, however, additional information can be obtained from the aisnsw website.

In our next article we will discuss how to make an application to a Private Independent school and how to navigate the uncertainty of enrolment waiting lists.

– Written by Andrew Livermore, WealthPartners Specialist Adviser
This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider you financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.


Andrew Livermore is a Financial Adviser with WealthPartners who specialises with professionals and their families.  He is known for his method and strategies to help families pay for their children’s private school education in Sydney.

Over the coming weeks Andrew will address a range of topics related to deciding and paying for private education.  Andrew will share the lessons and perspective of his family, his wife and their three children on Sydney’s North Shore.