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Figures shatter private school myth

The majority of wealthy families choose government schools for their children rather than Catholic or independent schools, according to figures for South Australia released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

"This explodes the myth that only independent schools have students from wealthy families," Association of Independent Schools of SA executive director Garry Le Duff said yesterday.

"We are trying to get the community to understand that the profile of our sector is changing ... and we are not just catering for the wealthy.

"That's why it is important to maintain a public funding system for all three sectors that takes into account the capacity of parents to pay, regardless of the school their child attends."

In 2001, of the 17,762 school students whose families earned $104,000 or more, 7689 (43%) attended government schools, compared with 6000 (34%) who attended independent schools and 4073 (23%) at Catholic schools.

The data - based on census information from 1996 and 2001 - also shows more students from middle-income families attend government schools than independent or Catholic.

Of the 96,011 students from families that earned $1000 or more a week in 2001, 59% attended a government school, 22% a Catholic school and 19% an independent school.

SA Secondary Principals Association president Bob Heath said the figures showed parents were starting to question the wisdom of paying thousands of dollars a year to send their children to elite private schools.

"I think people are starting to see past the myth that, if you pay for an education, it will be better," he said. "The educational opportunities available to students in the public sector in this state is of the highest quality."

Figures shatter private school myth (The Advertiser 9/12/03)

Australian Bureau of Statistics

9 Dec 2003