Australian education developments

Two articles below


The Bard may soon return to Queensland schools as the Federal Government considers making Shakespeare compulsory for English students. Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop said the compulsory study of Shakespeare was one of a range of options being considered for English students. Ms Bishop, expected to step up her overhaul of Australian education this year, said that for centuries schoolchildren had been enriched by the English playwright. She was considering reintroducing the Bard as a compulsory part of the English curriculum, she said. "I would say that is one option. But English itself is not even compulsory in Queensland schools at the moment," she said.

Ms Bishop has indicated a willingness to use federal funding as a bargaining chip to force states to improve curriculums. She wants English and history reintroduced as compulsory subjects across the nation. Ms Bishop noted British research released this week showing Shakespearean language "excites the brain".

Ms Bishop said Shakespeare's plays were not the only literary classics she wanted back in the classroom. Australian literature from Banjo Paterson to Patrick White also could enrich young minds, as opposed to "deconstructing that trashy reality show Big Brother".

The Federal Government has backed its belief in the Bard with a $50,0000 investment in the Bell Shakespeare Regional Teacher Scholarships program, which kicks off this year. The investment will provide 12 English teachers from regional and remote schools with a program to build expertise in bringing Shakespeare to life.


When government schools are no good ....

There is a huge demand for private education in Australia in a desperate attempt to escape Left-run non-education in State-government schools. Around 40% of Australian teenagers are now sent to private schools. But huge demand forces up prices -- as it always does. Australia's most famous conservative government -- the Menzies (Federal) administration -- long ago instituted a semi-voucher system by giving grants to private schools -- thus going over the heads of the State governments. Federal grants to private schools are however still much less per head than what State governments spend on their schools

Some of Sydney's most prestigious private schools are charging parents as much as $4000 in non-refundable fees to enrol their children, on top of tuition fees that can cost more than $20,000. Annual fees for senior students this year will be as high as $21,117 at Cranbrook, $20,967 at Kambala, $20,913 at King's and $20,826 at Sydney Grammar. At Cranbrook School, a non-refundable enrolment fee of $4615 is payable on acceptance of a place. Parents must also pay a non-refundable fee of $300 to make an enrolment application. The school generates about $1 million each year from enrolment fees and more than $23 million in tuition fees. Under its funding arrangements for private schools, the Federal Government no longer takes into account the amount of non-refundable fee income a school generates.

Lyndsay Connors, who heads the NSW Public Education Council, said schools were no longer penalised for the extra income. "This kind of impost by private schools on parents would normally be their own business," she said. "But in this country, these schools are not only provided with public funding, but with ever-increasing amounts of it. The least they could be required to do is let all of us shareholders know what all this public and private money is being spent on. What exactly are we subsidising?"

St Ignatius' College, Riverview, charges a non-refundable enrolment fee of $4000, King's $3600 and Sydney Grammar $3470. Loreto Normanhurst and Loreto Kirribilli each charge $3000 and Abbotsleigh $1720. St Andrew's Cathedral School charges a non-refundable enrolment fee of $2000 a family. Overseas students are also required to pay an enrolment bond of $18,500 and a NSW Board of Studies charge of $700 for each year 12 student sitting the HSC. Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) charges students $1000 to enrol and another $2000 to confirm the enrolment. Both are non-refundable and in addition to annual fees. Year 11 and 12 students pay a total of $37,950 over two years, paid in five instalments.

Its headmaster, Timothy Wright, said the fee was designed to deter parents from making an application if they did not seriously intend to enrol their child. "You might find parents put their names down at four or five schools and four of those schools make plans for that child arriving," Dr Wright said. "If a school suddenly found that 10 per cent of their expected enrolments didn't come, they would have a serious problem." Dr Wright said income from non-refundable fees helped fund the sizeable costs associated with running the enrolment office.

The Association of Independent Schools' executive director, Geoff Newcombe, said non-refundable fees were intended to provide certainty for parents and schools and to discourage parents from making multiple applications. "In many cases, a late withdrawal means that the school would have difficulty in filling that place for a term or two - even though they have waiting lists - because the parents have enrolled in another school," Dr Newcombe said. "Many schools use that as a contribution towards the school's capital fund and towards the bursary scholarship fund."



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