Private versus public: The cost of education on the Coast

Sushine Coast parents are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to send their kids to the region’s most prestigious schools.

Figures from a leading education website show the huge costs parents are subject to when choosing private education.

But for parents who don’t want to send their kids to state schools, The Good Schools Guide shows Catholic schools are the cheapest option.

Based on 2019 fees, Sunshine Coast’s newest school, Good Samaritan Catholic College, would set parents back $20,160 on school fees for their child’s education from Prep-Year 12.

That’s compared to over $100,000 for some elite independent schools.

For a child born in 2018, the Australian Scholarships Group found parents would pay up to $399,298 in total education costs at faith-based schools, while public education would cost just $50,757.

In addition to tuition fees, the figures include predicted expenses for extras like clothing, extracurricular activities and transport.

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in education Dr Carol Smith said regardless of the cost of education, sending kids to a public or private school was a personal decision.

“It’s very much dependent on the parents and their understanding of what education is all about,” she said.

“Some people send their kids to a private school for religious reasons, some for academic, some because they went there themselves.”

She said if schools were provided enough resources, students saw great results.

“On the Coast, people are really lucky because there is so much choice,” Dr Smith said.

“But parents need to do their homework and have the confidence to make a decision around what is the best school for their child at this time.

“If it is that they’re prepared to spend money to get that, well then that’s the decision they make.”

The benefits of private schooling has divided some parents on the Sunshine Coast, with many saying the difference in education is not worth the high price tag.

Coast mum Michelle Champion said she chose private education when her kids reached high school.

“After using the public system for primary school, which was great, the public high school system didn’t meet our standards,” she said.

Don’t need to break the bank to get a good education

For Isabella Attard, starting school at Chancellor State College will be following in family tradition.

The five-year-old is starting Prep at the Sippy Downs school next week.

Bella’s mum Michelle said being in the Sunshine Coast’s learning precinct was a major factor in choosing which school she should go to.

“They (Chancellor) cross over quite a lot with the university, and if you look into Chancellor, they’re quite ahead with certain things, like robotics,” Ms Attard said.

She said the family moved to the area specifically to be in the school’s district.

“I chose Chancellor because it’s a really good school,” Ms Attard said.

“I had a stepson at that school … and he also went to Chancellor high, and my nieces also went to Chancellor primary.

“I wanted to send Bella there. It’s quite good because she can go primary, high school and uni all in one area.”

Chancellor is the only state school in Sippy Downs. Parents would otherwise have to choose Siena Catholic Primary School or travel to Buderim or Mooloolaba.

Ms Attard said parents didn’t need to spend thousands of dollars a year in school fees to get a good education.

“I don’t think you need to at such an early age,” she said.

“She’s (Isabella) quite confident, not shy at all and isn’t lacking any people skills or communication which is really good for us,

“Whereas a lot of parents choose to hold their kids back a year just to get those social skills.”

Isabella’s parents have spent about $150 on book fees and $500 on her uniforms, which Ms Attard said were the bulk of their expenses.

With 2018 OP results that could give a number of private schools a run for their money, Chancellor offers world-class education without the hefty price tag.

The college celebrated its best OP results yet, after five graduates of the 2018 Year 12 cohort achieved the highest possible rankings with an OP 1.

A total of 24 per cent achieved an OP1-5, and 97 per cent scored 1-15.

Executive principal Jacqui King said the school was proud of the entire cohort’s exceptional results.

Convenience and cost proves good fit for new school

Little Kai Scott will next week walk the halls of the Sunshine Coast’s newest school as he enters his first year of education.

The five-year-old will be starting Prep at Good Samaritan Catholic College at Bli Bli.

“I’m very excited,” he said when getting his photo taken at the Sunshine Coast Daily office.

Kai’s mum, Krystal, said she chose Good Samaritan not only because it was walking distance from their house, but because the price wasn’t as “excessive” as many other Sunshine Coast private schools.

The new Catholic school is, in fact, the cheapest option for private education on the Coast.

According to Good Samaritan’s website, parents will be charged an annual fee (not including levies) of $1200 from Prep to Year 6.

From Year 7-9, fees increase to $1840, and $2080 from Year 10-12.

That adds up to $20,150 in school fees for one student who attends Good Samaritan from Prep to Year 12.

Ms Scott said she had considered choosing the public system, but liked the consistency of having Kai in the same school from Prep to Year 12.

“We really liked the local public schools, but there wasn’t much around for high schools,” she said.

“We didn’t want to move him around after Year 6, so going private in our area was a better option for us.”

Another plus of Good Samaritan was the option of a 60 per cent discount for their next child.

“We kind of weighed up the costs and, with the 60 per cent off, it’s really not bad at all,” Ms Scott said.

Catholic schools on the Sunshine Coast are often cheaper options for parents wanting to choose private education, without the hefty price tag.

“We would have liked to go Anglican, but there’s no way we could have afforded that,” Ms Scott said.

New students will start at Good Samaritan on January 29.

Principal Greg Myers said 180 students would be enrolled to start with, increasing to 700 in about four years, and 1500 in the coming decade.

Parents were given a tour of the school last week for a first look at where their kids would be educated.

Anna Oliver said the school’s reputation made her want to enrol daughters Indy and Asha.

“Being a foundation student – they are really immersed in the culture straight away,” she said.

To view tuition fees for all Sunshine Coast schools, visit The Good Schools Guide website.

This article originally appeared in the Sunshine Coast Daily – Private versus public: The cost of education on the Coast

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