'No way in the world': $500k private school cost refuted

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A survey claims it could cost half a million dollars privately educating a child born in 2018, but the publishers have been accused of 'scaring parents'.

Rehan Ali's parents want to give their son the best possible education.

The seven-year-old starts Year 2 this year and his mum Evelyn Ali wants to send him to private school.

"Especially in the public school he is in now, it is showing me exactly what I expected. It doesn't have the extracurricular activities and the subjects are very limited," she told SBS News.

But the cost of a private education is a prohibitive factor for Rehan's parents and for many others.

According to The Australian Scholarship Group (ASG), the cost of schooling has jumped 61 per cent since 2008.

In that same time wages have grown by 34 per cent.

The Ali family are members of the ASG, which is a network where its members pay towards their children's education costs in installments.

Rahan Ali is set to start Year 2 this year.
Rehan Ali is set to start Year 2 this year.
SBS News

The ASG survey claims families with children born in 2018 or after could spend more than half a million dollars privately educating them.

It comes as the Australian Bureau of Statistics found a reversal in a long-time trend toward private education.

2015 was the first time in 40 years that saw an increase in the proportion of families choosing public high schools. The trend continued in 2016.

ASG CEO Chris Hawkins said parents who responded to the survey indicated that rising school fees were the main factor behind the cost increase.

"Those are figures calculated adding inflation as it is rising each year, tuition fees and the additional costs of sending children to school," he said. 

"The incidental costs that go hand in hand with sending a child to school have also increased over that period."

The Independent Schools Association has refuted the survey results.

Their own research - collected nationally from all independent schools in 2016 - showed a median $6,000 fee per student in Sydney per year. Sydney is considered to be Australia's most expensive city for education.

Dr Geoff Newcombe the chief executive the Association of Independent Schools New South Wales said the data was skewed towards the top end of the education system.

He also accused the ASG of "scaring parents".

"They tend to focus just on the fees charged at the schools who have the higher fee levels and totally ignore the fees charged by the sector generally," he said.

"I think we have something like 70 per cent of our schools charge less than $10,000. So there would be no way in the world that it would cost the $500,000 over the life of the child's education to educate in an independent school.

"The fees generally with the exception of the top 11 per cent of schools range from somewhere between $12,000 a year way down to $3,000 a year.

"They seem to think that they will scare parents into wanting to invest with them," he claimed.

Dr Newcombe said if parents want to send their children to a private school, there are many other options available to pay for their children's schooling.

"Our advice to the parents of course is to speak to the school. The school allows people to pay fees fortnightly, they certainly look at parents with financial difficulties and the banks also are available to parents to assist them to do some financial planning in the future."

The Ali family said they want to wait to see how Rehan goes at public school before they make a decision about private school.

"I think for primary school we will stick with the public school. And review that once he is in Year 5 or 6 to see, because while private school would be the ideal thing that we would love to get him into if our financial situation was different, but there are selective schools as well that can cater to both worlds in a better balance.

"We are still open-minded ... But Rehan is only in Year 2 - how he is in his studies is not known to us yet," Ms Ali said.

Source: SBS News

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