Principal’s Blog 2019 – Response to Fees
Date: February 1, 2019 Posted by: Alana Ripepi
Welcome back to another exciting year.
Some of you may have read a story in the Cairns Post last week regarding school fees for Cairns and region private schools. Usually I take these types of regional news media reports with a grain of salt. However, given the nature of the article and its inconsistent data sourcing, I felt it important to outline some of my concerns regarding the article.
- Most non-government schools charge an enrolment and/or confirmation fee (or equivalent). Unfortunately the Post chose to only list these charges for TAS.
- The Post chose to list all extra levies separately for TAS but combine them under one amount for other schools.
- As parents know, TAS Junior School fees have been reduced for 2019. A reduction in fees at 2 Catholic schools was the lead of the story with no mention of TAS.
I know that many TAS families make great sacrifices to send their children to TAS. I know that our fees are more expensive than our competitors. I know that parents are often faced with the temptation of choosing the cheaper option available at another school. Consequently, I have been chatting with a number of parents, both those with TAS students and also with children at other local private schools. I thought people may be interested in the responses most commonly mentioned when TAS parents were asked what they appreciate having included in TAS fees:
- A one-to-one laptop program across Year 3 – 12, where students are provided an age-appropriate device, full support, a range of software and training which is included in the fees;
- A full swimming and aquatic program, weekly, across the whole year, from Prep to Year 6, staffed by outstanding quality coaches is included in the fees. Y7-10 PE classes use the pool during their PE program (no bus fees, pool fees, etc);
- A specialist, experienced Art teacher and Art room in each Junior School so that students from Prep to Year 6 access Art for more than an hour every week, each Junior School year level. This is highly valued by parents, particularly those with artistic and creative children. All Primary specialist teachers are qualified in their areas of teaching. (Principal’s note: We notice a large difference in the artistic ability and understanding of Art between TAS Junior School students and those from other Primary Schools);
- Timetabled activities programs in each campus is included in the fees;
- A fully integrated Outdoor Education program from Year 2 – 12 with meaningful programs linked to curriculum outcomes (not the standard “school camp” that most schools provide) is included in the fees;
- A variety of clubs, activities and opportunities (note – a small number of these do require extra payment);
- Academic tutoring sessions for secondary students wanting to improve their academic outcomes is provided for free;
- Compulsory excursions/incursions is included in the fees;
- Choir membership is included in the fees, as are Eisteddfod entrance fees;
- Bus costs for student transport within the school day is included in fees.
Other feedback was: the TAS advantages of small class sizes, large rooms, a culture that supports and encourages learning, spacious grounds and equipment areas and caring, high-performing staff.
When speaking to parents with students at other schools, many were unaware of the advantages listed above. They did, however, discuss their own experiences regarding hidden costs at their current schools:
- BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) schools that require students to bring their own laptops (at quite a cost to parents, including the hassle of seeking tech support as schools traditionally don’t support multiple devices/platforms)
- Extra costs incurred for timetabled sport/activities (this was from secondary parents regarding the Wednesday afternoon program at their school)
- Brief, “bolt-on” swimming programs OR extra costs charged for swimming programs
- Extra costs charged for certain camps and bus travel during the school day
- Clubs and activities charging extra (many of the clubs and activities at TAS do not charge)
- Extra costs charged for some subjects (usually electives)
- Extra costs charged for compulsory excursions and incursions
We continue to work to limit the costs for our parents to send their children to TAS. However, we also strongly believe that TAS offers the best education available in Far North Queensland (based on a number of metrics) and we see this reflected in the caliber and achievements of both current TAS students and those who have graduated.