Private education marketplace School Places has extended its model after 18 months in- market, to place less emphasis on discounts and more on personal support for parents.
CEO Natalie Mactier said School Places’ consumer research and customer feedback found that individual fit, affordability and availability are the three main drivers of school choice. Many time-poor parents, often confused by misinformation in the community, crave information and transparency around fee structures and vacancy options.
“We launched School Places as an online self-service model where parents could search and apply for vacancies direct from the website. We were surprised to find people calling us wanting to talk to someone about their particular situation and not knowing where to start when it came to securing a private school vacancy. Many were worried they wouldn’t find a place at short notice, or find one they could afford.
“Slowly we started to build a dedicated team of customer service agents and eventually made the decision to evolve the School Places website to reflect the new high touch service.
“At School Places we’re about finding the right fit for families, whether that is a last minute discounted vacancy or a full fee place,” Ms Mactier said. “We present families with available options which they can then shortlist from.”
To highlight some of the misinformation around private schooling, School Places has analysed the publicly available information of more 730 private schools across Australia.
“It’s a pretty common perception that private schools are hugely expensive and out of reach for all but the wealthiest families. But when we analysed private school tuition fees in Australia we found that 42 per cent of places in year 7 are less than $5,000 per year, and a further 33 per cent are between $5,000 and $10,000. Just 11 per cent of schools have fees above $20,000 a year,” Ms Mactier said.
“Another common myth is that you need to waitlist years in advance to get your child into a private school. While it’s true that there are long wait lists for particular year levels at some schools, many are unaware that new vacancies become available at all year levels all the time.
“At the same time, the choice of schools available has never been greater,” she said.
“People are used to seeking expert help when they’re in the market for a new home or a holiday, and while getting help choosing the right school for their children’s needs is a new idea for many, it’s one that’s taking off.
“It is clear that parents are concerned with making the right choice, but it is important for them to know that there are a range of school options that meet their budget, location, and school type. School choice is so much more than public versus private. It’s about parents finding the school that suits their child’s needs and is the right fit for their future development.
“School Places does the hard work for parents. We talk to hundreds of private schools across the country, and after a quick conversation with the parent, we can provide options to help find the right private school place,” Ms Mactier said.
“The change in our service model takes us a step closer to realising our vision of building a fully functioning marketplace that matches parent demand with a range of school vacancies”, she said.