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Private school fee growth tops inflation

| 03.12,11. 12:57 AM |

Private school fee growth tops inflation


December 3, 2011
LEADING private schools will again increase their fees by almost double the inflation rate, with Sydney school fees set to break the $30,000 ceiling in 2013.

SCEGGS Darlinghurst, The King's School, St Andrew's Cathedral School and Kincoppal-Rose Bay have all increased their year 12 fees by 5 per cent or more for next year.

Charges will rise in most low-fee schools but at a lower rate, with Catholic school fees increasing by 3 per cent. Two schools, Mamre Anglican School in Erskine Park and Tudor House, have cut their fees.

Advertisement: Story continues below The head of SCEGGS, Jenny Allum, in a note to parents, said the school was ''committed to keeping fees as low as reasonably possible''. The year 12 tuition fee next year will be $28,911, with an additional $500 technology fee.

The cost of education was rising at a much greater rate than inflation but federal funding for the school had been frozen since 2004, Ms Allum said.

Around 70 per cent of high-fee school costs are paid in teacher salaries, which will rise by 11.4 per cent over the next three years.

Public school teacher costs will increase at a lower rate, increasing the disparity in salaries between the sectors. Late yesterday, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission ordered an interim pay increase of 2.5 per cent from January 1, with any further increases dependent on negotiations between the Education Department and teachers on cost-cutting measures.

Bob Lipscombe, the president of the NSW Teachers Federation, said the government faced a staffing problem, because one-third of teachers would reach retirement age in the next five years.

''They [private schools] are competing with the public sector and if they offer more attractive salaries and conditions then clearly it will impact adversely on the ability of the government to recruit teachers,'' he said.

Laurie Scandrett, the chief executive of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, was pleased Mamre had been able to cut fees by 15 per cent.

''Mamre had a demographic survey done which indicated they were probably overpriced given their area,'' he said. ''It's a school working hard to meet the market and … decided to cut the fee and pray it gets more enrolments.''

Tudor House restructured its fees for 2012, stripping after-school programs from its basic tuition fee.

''[We've] heeded the information from parents who were worried about fees,'' the headmaster, John Stewart, said.

Geoff Newcombe, the executive director of the Association of Independent Schools in NSW, said schools are conscious to set their fees to suit their catchments: ''If you become unaffordable … you will lose students.''


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