The statisticians tell us that enrolments in independent schools continue to grow across New South Wales.
This, despite the fact that most parents have access to state schools for which they will pay virtually no fees.
Independent schools must be doing something right, if parents are willing to “put their hand in their pocket” to pay school fees.
For many years the image of an independent school in many people’s mind, centred on what I refer to as the “sandstone schools” – the long-serving, high status, high fee Sydney schools, that come under the banner of GPS (Greater Public Schools).
“Parents at some Sydney private schools will pay more than $40,000 for their child’s year 12 education this year, with fees rising almost $10,000 in seven years….Additional technology levies at SCEGGS Darlinghurst and The King’s School have pushed final-year fees over $40,000 for the first time.” SMH, 2020.
There is a myth that these are typical independent schools. This myth has held sway for generations, while the facts have changed.
Most independent schools in NSW are what are categorised as “low fee” schools, who serve their local communities by providing an attractive alternative mode of education to the State and Catholic systems.
St Columba is one of these schools.
In regional areas like Port Macquarie, where there exist only one or two independent schools, that “low fee” status might be questioned, but when you compare their results against the high fee schools, many parents obviously believe they are getting a bargain and enrollment growth continues.
If we are comparing schools and their academic results, St Columba ranks favourably with schools where parents pay double and even triple the fees we charge.
If that was the only comparison, we would be happy but we offer much more than good academic results.
We support a vigorous and successful co-curricular program as part of our school life – Community activities, Performing Arts and Sport are essential parts of our school life and play an essential role in preparing our students for “lives of purpose, service and engagement. (School Vision).
Another factor in choosing an independent school is accountability.
Schools like ours are accountable to NESA, Federal and State government legislation and financial oversight but are also accountable to our families.
We are focused on meeting the needs and aspirations of our communities. We do not answer to the head office.
As an independent school we get to choose what is best for our students. We make decisions based on what will work for our students, not some political imperative.
We are a part of our community.
At St Columba, if you don’t like what we do and want to talk to someone about it, you will not get referred to a regional office or head office somewhere in Sydney, you will get through to someone at your school.
“The freedom of students and their families to exercise choice in schooling is one of the most demanding forms of accountability for Independent schools. Schools need to remain competitive to survive and consistently meet high parental expectations for the development of students. By providing government funding to support choice, governments then have policy levers available to pursue the public interest in quality schooling by imposing accountability requirements on staffing and teaching programs.” AIS.
We are aware that if we are not able to meet the needs of our students and their families, we will not only fail to become “the most outstanding school in NSW”, we will cease to exist!
So, thank you for your faith and confidence in our School.
We promise we will do everything we can to provide a first class education for your children and offer them access to a bright and successful future.
Some Reasons You Might Love Our School
1. Our school refuses to compromise on quality.
2. We believe our students deserve as good an education as any urban city student.
3. Students are not just a number at our school.
4. Our teachers are happy to go “the extra mile” for the students.
5. Our school is full of great people and great facilities.
6. Opportunities. Heaps and heaps.
7. Our students want to learn.
8. We set and maintain clear standards.
9. Our students have great career outcomes.
10. We never stop trying to do better.