The Truth About Private Schools

Written by

Blaise Joseph Ideas@TheCentre

A huge misconception in Australian education is that all non-government schools charge exorbitant fees — that only super-rich parents can afford — and hence shouldn’t receive government funding.

 The facts are: Most non-government schools charge fees well below $10,000 per year; The median fee for independent schools is about $6,000; and In the Catholic school system, fees average around $2,000 and it is common for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to receive education for much less than this.

Government schools have, on average, a higher proportion of disadvantaged students. But this is certainly not the case in all schools. For example, according to the official measure of school disadvantage known as ICSEA, the selective government schools in NSW have less disadvantage on average than even the ‘elite’ GPS schools. So sanctimonious lecturing about how non-government schools result in ‘segregation’ fails the common sense test.

The non-government school sector also saves the taxpayer a large amount of money (estimates range from $2 billion to as much as $9 billion per year), because they don’t rely on the government to fund the full cost. Non-government schools receive less government funding if they are in richer areas, but in contrast government schools receive the same base amount of funding regardless of location. In any case, around a third of all Australian children are educated in non-government schools.

Why do so many parents choose this option? Often the choice is for non-academic reasons, such as for extra-curricular opportunities. But often it is also related to the school’s ethos. Look no further than the problematic government school programs: Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships. Many parents — understandably and justifiably — don’t agree with the ideas being taught about sensitive topics, and avoid those schools.

 It is absurd to suggest parents who send their children to government school systems with controversial content on gender and sexuality are choosing the default option, while parents who don’t choose this are somehow making an expensive lifestyle choice. At the end of the day, parents know what’s best for their own kids, not the government. Parents should be supported regardless of the school they choose.

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