From the Principal

Education: Cost or Investment

Here’s a question you would not expect the principal of an independent school to ask: “Why would you pay school fees when you can send your child to a school for free?

If you read some commentary, you might wonder why schools like ours even exist.

“If you’re only interested in academic achievement, the results from most of the 30-odd Australian studies since 2000 suggest that private schools are no better at progressing students’ learning than state schools, once you’ve controlled for socioeconomic background.” The Guardian, 2018.

On the other hand: “New research has found private schools provide a major academic boost for secondary students even after their background and prior school achievement was factored in. The ‘value-add’ of an independent school was worth an average eight points on a student’s Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, challenging a recent review which said socio-economic status – not the school sector – was the main decider of academic success.” Canberra Times, 2018.

I suppose it comes down to whether you look at  paying school fees as a cost, a discretionary spend, a value for money proposition or an investment.

  • What’s the difference between a cost and an investment? A cost is simply an expenditure of money, time, or resources. An investment is an expenditure that has a strong possibility of a return.
  • What is the difference between cost and price? Cost is typically the expense incurred for making a product or service that is sold by a company. Price is the amount a customer is willing to pay for a product or service.
  • What is value for money? Value for money is defined as the most advantageous combination of cost, quality and sustainability to meet customer requirements.

Perhaps, when we look at education from a simple financial or final marks point of view, we might be looking in the wrong direction:The big question for me, with my parent hat on, is what is the school going to contribute to helping my children grow up healthy, happy, having choices in life and being prepared and set up to succeed in those choices? Peter Goss, Grattan Institute.

Research tells us that the reasons people pay for an independent school include:

  • A cultural and spiritual allegiance to the ethics and values a school offers
  •  Teacher connection and discipline
  • Access to opportunities, flexibility of the structure to adapt to that child’s interests or needs
  • Aspirations for academic and social engagement, building friendships that last a long time

Does that sound like you?

Whatever your reason for enrolling your child/children at St Columba, thank you for the trust you are showing in us and our desire to be the very best school we can be for your child.

We were the little school that dreamed big, and now we are well on the way to achieving our goal of being the best school in NSW.

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at

Related posts
From the Principal

Who is teaching what?

From the Principal

Think before you attack

From the Principal

Educating for the future

From the Principal

Principal's Blog