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A private or public education: that’s the $430,000 question

Global news, School Fee

The Age


Croydon mother Linda Gibson had plenty of state and independent options when she was investigating high schools for her eldest child. But she settled on the local state school because of its academic reputation.

Her daughter Romany starts year 7 at Norwood Secondary College next week and will join the school’s high-achievers program.

“I don’t think it’s worth $20,000 a year for a private school,” Ms Gibson said. “If your child wants a challenge and has a good academic record, there are state schools that are fabulous and just fit the bill perfectly.”

A survey by the Australian Scholarships Group showed parents of a child born this year who choose private education could expect to spend $504,742 in metropolitan Melbourne from preschool to year 12. That cost is $45,747 more than the national metropolitan average.

The group said parents could factor in education costs of $68,343 from pre-school to year 12 in the state system for a child born this year.

The Australian Scholarships Group is a member-based organisation that invests money on behalf of parents to offset education costs for their children.

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The survey was based on 6900 responses from the group’s members. The figures show the “upper ranges” that parents can expect to pay. The survey focused on a range of costs, including school fees, transport, uniforms, computers, excursions and sports trips.

Australian Scholarships Group chief executive John Velegrinis said the cost of education in Australia had risen by more than double the rate of inflation in the past decade. “Education is a massive investment,” he said.

Earlier this year Fairfax Media reported annual school fees at elite private schools would reach $30,000 on average by 2016, according to analysis by a Melbourne University economist.

Ms Gibson said she was surprised by the compulsory fees charged in the public sector. “By the time we’ve bought shoes, uniforms, books, a tablet or iPad, and then added on camp, sporting and music programs, it’s $2500 in the first couple of months.”

She said her other daughter Scarlett, 5, and son Ronan, 3, would also go to state schools.

Fitzroy mother Jennifer Butler is moving her two sons, who both have learning difficulties, to Xavier College this year because she felt there was not enough support at the local state schools.

“We didn’t feel that there ?were great opportunities in our feeder public schools,” she said. “At one of the schools we felt that the facilities there, and what would be available to them, wasn’t very good. The other has a more personalised learning approach, which we didn’t think would suit our children.”

Will, 12, and Henry, 10, were at a Catholic primary school, but Ms Butler was worried they could fall between the cracks at a high school in the public system.

“We really wanted to be able to access some additional help that wasn’t automatically available to us in the public system,” she said. “In the private system, if you’re not happy, you can deal directly with the school principal. It’s more of a corporate environment that you’re paying for.”


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