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18 November 2015

New analysis busts myths about private school affordability

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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.

Analysis of Australian private school tuition fees by School Places (November 2015)
National school fees year 7 937109045c1f38a8e073ae6d58da5411c402c6c4372d936dba3cc6ba3f2ab475
National school fees year 12 c33c805048e2f21ec13cde8bfd3c8af0f36c9b1b7c6f304c0da66282f30768ae
Analysis by State
Nsw school fees year 7 e026a472d041c322464c1fe1ded58276ec8a2c511062a9edb24744e56a4ded10
Nsw school fees year 12 3839e77a03f54c8ea58aa1046fd7e6cacf55f0cbbc140b7c6aef13250fbad424
Vic school fees year 7 c116ea0606f2f06b09b7dcd8cceb291fe17f3bf4a2d7e43a395ab4ca71cf2208
Vic school fees year 12 38975a641e4191c057f65b8b7c94bba8622bec56b5015b692cbe5d374e5284ae
Qld school fees year 7 ff544dbcbe44f3ed06e681f7552eb470be7c8e1e411b097784ffcb3b66334295
Qld school fees year 12 03d1a38ce30bd846a753d30207ed74642b56852aac7d95de2798807c80a04c1e
Act school fees year 7 0822fc858c6aa9ada49909b143ce375138c1e194e518e44963d75b7709062d27
Act school fees year 12 d053cd23ce946f6ff9cd5cdc060718fc13cc5bc45857503a0a94f9893192ebdf
Tas school fees year 7 8012171e37ab7b5dfd1f3104d87bab28e9f4a7d27bd585708c8cf89efb9b79a4
Tas school fees year 12 a562e27e9b12732fd839edb062f07dbe0ac0de327066b36bd8c4ef4e140c45c0
Sa school fees year 7 fa2c65319f27c1196d25de8f88d11b59eb1c31269918313b7a5c3fcb8ef817b3
Sa school fees year 12 1743c025b7ea0aebd0cdf6c634561d6f4775b6e1c8db18fc9d922fb8dbe6394d
Wa school fees year 7 309d2ed71e5b6da360c1ddd4b285fbeb01ff3c9cfa015e55cdf0febdcf872357
Wa school fees year 12 9b96c5bca8bc0e6edb7b25c51e40bf04d073b66cf99831e7bc6374274a41d5a4