Let’s face facts – it costs more to send a child to SCAS than most other schools in town. So why do parents make the decision to do this when newspapers often produce articles that say that enrolment in an independent school makes no difference to the educational outcomes of students.
- “Australian researchers have confirmed a growing body of international research that finds the high cost of private school education does not give students an academic edge over their public school counterparts.” ABC News
- “Three studies of year 12 completion in recent years show mixed results. One found that students in Catholic and independent schools are more likely to complete year 12 than students in public schools. Another found an advantage for independent schools over public schools but no difference between public and Catholic schools. The third study estimated that the Catholic school effect ranged from slightly negative to slightly positive compared to public schools, depending on different assumptions.” Fairfax Media.
Despite these articles, schools like ours continue to grow. We must be doing something right! There must be a positive “difference”.
I will not comment on the culture offerings of other schools to examine the reasons behind this choice. Instead, I will try to identify what makes SCAS “different” to some other schools.
Here are my observations on some key areas of the SCAS experience:
- Trying hard and succeeding does not mean you cop it in the playground at SCAS. Tall poppies and the occasional square peg seem to not only survive here, they thrive.
- Gender Stereotypes are less obvious: Girls do Maths, Science and Tech subjects and boys Dance, Sing and do Drama and no one seems to think that this is unusual. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNyhwvl7VP8
- Accepting others who may have different attitudes or backgrounds to you is common.
- Disruptive and rude behaviour is not acceptable (to students or staff).
- Bullying is considered totally unacceptable and when it occurs our students usually “step in” or report it rather than walk away.
- Having higher needs tends not to mean exclusion or marginalisation, more often it means a helping hand and an invitation to belong.
Does that make us different enough for parents to be willing to pay school fees rather than get an education “for free”? Only our families can make that decision.
While we are talking about public perceptions, let’s confront another one. There seems to be a perception among some that only a “certain kind” of student attends or is welcome at a school like SCAS.
Because we have achieved success in the academic, sporting and cultural fields and have developed a range of exceptional resources for our students, there is a perception that only “wealthy” families send their children to SCAS or that you are not welcome here unless you are exceptionally talented.
A few facts:
- SCAS students come from a wide variety of social, cultural, religious and family backgrounds. We respect these differences while maintaining our Anglican Christian heritage. We believe each student who enrols should have the opportunity to be a full part of our school and learning community.
- Some of our students need extra physical, educational or psychological support to achieve their goals. We recognise that all children benefit from having positive friendships and feeling a sense of belonging. To feel included and a part of something also helps develop their confidence and sense of identity is a positive experience that is especially important for children with additional needs. The level of support offered by the school in the classroom and beyond is not only significant, it is used in ways that offer the best opportunity for the student to be involved and progress.
“In Australia, 89 per cent of school-aged children with a disability attend a mainstream school. Having additional needs or a disability refers to a wide range of conditions that in some way limit a person’s ability to manage everyday living. Some disabilities are visible, but some you can’t see.” Kids Matter.
SCAS is selective in the sense that our families select us as their school and choose to send their children here. The fact that our achievements are so amazing that people think we might be a “selective” school, speaks volumes for the willingness of our students to learn and the hard work and professionalism of our staff.
In summary, the experience of every student at SCAS is different. Each student will have his or her own story to tell when they graduate and leave us.
Perhaps, it is only after graduation that our students will be able to determine if their parents’ decision to send them to a “different” school was worthwhile – if the social, educational, cultural and sporting experiences they had made going to SCAS a worthwhile investment in their future.
We hope they decide the “difference” made it all worthwhile.
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School