The ICSEA scores that rate how "rich" a school is have been revised - you can see the top 43 schools in NSW here.
Don't ask me what the ICSEA rating is, or how it is calculated. All I know is that if you have a "high" score, the school is full of kids from wealthy families.
First thing to remember - there are 43 "elite" private schools on this list for NSW, but there are 916 private schools in NSW. The elite are just 4.7% of the total.
I dumped the PDF into Excel and sorted it by ICSEA score. Here are the top 10 in order:
- Kincoppal, Rose Bay
- Redlands, Cremorne
- Moriah College, Bondi Junction
- SCEGGS, Darlinghurst
- Ascham, Edgeclif
- Pymble Ladies' College, Pymble
- Cranbrook School, Bellevue Hill
- Ravenswood School for Girls, Gordon
- Abbotsleigh, Wahroonga
- Barker College, Hornsby
Lots of lovely leafy, expensive suburbs there. Nice places to live - except you need to have an income about 5 times mine to even scrape in to the worst house in the cheapest street. But I'm not the jealous, envious type - good luck to them.
I then had a look at the school with top score - Kincoppal. It's definitely an elite school for micks. I dumped the fee schedule into a spreadsheet. The average annual fee for day students is $17,341. Boarders can add another $19,000 to that. If you have your kid there for 13 years, it will set you back $225,440.
The annual report states that 85% of their income comes from fees. If that's the case, the state and federal governments are chipping in a combined $3060 in recurrent fees, and $1,500 in capital - a total taxpayer contribution of about $4,500 per year.
As there are 905 students, that comes to $4,072,500.
I'm not going to grind through all the other schools in the list, delving into annual reports to extract numbers. Let's just assume that the top 20 schools have 1000 students each, and the state and federal governments give them $4,500 per student per year.
That means the elite schools are getting $90,000,000 per year.
Now, one thing to remember is that the state usually give private schools 3 to 4 times more than the federal government, so of that $90 mil, lets assume $70 million came from the NSW education department.
The NSW DET has a budget of $11.839 billion. Or $11,839,000,000. The elite schools are getting 0.59% of that budget. However, they teach 1.82% of the kids in NSW.
Let's look at the other 43 schools on the list. Here are the next 10:
- Newington College, Stanmore
- MLC School, Burwood
- Roseville College, Roseville
- Frensham School, Mittagong
- The Scots College, Bellevue Hill
- Queenwood School for Girls, Mosman
- Masada College High School, St Ives
- Kambala, Rose Bay
- The King's School, North Parramatta
- St Ignatius' College, Lane Cove
Again, lots of nice schools in nice Sydney suburbs. They all charge a lot too.
However, it gets really interesting when you look at the bottom half of the list:
- The Scots School Albury, Albury
- Oxley College, Burradoo
- Wenona School Ltd, North Sydney
- Kinross Wolaroi School, Orange
- Presbyterian Ladies College, Croydon
- Meriden School, Strathfield
- Tangara School for Girls, Cherrybrook
- Redfield College, Dural
- Danebank School, Hurstville
- The McDonald College, North Strathfield
- The Armidale School, Armidale
- Santa Sabina College, Strathfield
- William Branwhite Clarke College, Kellyville
- The Scots School, Bathurst
- Inaburra School, Bangor
- PLC Armidale, Armidale
- St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill
- Reddam House, North Bondi
- Rosebank College, Five Dock
- Arndell College, Oakville
- Pittwater House Girls College, Collaroy
- St Paul's College, Walla Walla
- New England Girls School, Armidale
I've never heard of half these schools - and note that many are out in the rural and regional areas. I covered St Paul's College in Walla Walla by chance recently.
It's a Lutheran school near Albury-Wadonga with 215 kids. Annual fees range from $4648 to $7300, with the average being $6053.
The state contribution is $1.15 million and federal $405,000.
Dividing those numbers by 215 kids, we find that:
Parents chip in an average of $6,053
The state government chips in $5,381 per kid
The feds chip in $1,883 per kid
Total taxpayer contribution is $7,264.
Total of parent and taxpayer contribution is $13,453.
As I have blogged before, the NSW DET gets $18,431 from the taxpayer in order to educate your average high school student. How they spend that money is a mystery to all and sundry - certainly nothing like that actually seems to end up in the schools. I suspect the DET has a bloody big furnace in their basement where they heat the building by burning two or three billion in cash each year.
There are of course quite a few more schools on this list of the "elites" that educate kids for less than what it costs in the state system.
Remember when I said earlier that it costs parents an eye-popping $225,440 to send their kids to 13 years at Kincoppal?
Well, let's calculate the cost of putting a kid through the state system.
- 7 years in primary school at $14,657 per year = $102,599
- 6 years in high school at $18,431 per year = $110,586
- total = $213,185.
Heck, that's only 9 grand short of the fees for the most expensive, most elitist private school in the state.
Of course if you add in the state contribution at Kincoppal, the total comes to $265,223 - so over 13 years, it's 50 grand more expensive.
But let's look at 13 years at St Paul's in Walla Walla. Well, we can't - it only does high school. but six years there will only set a parent back $36,096. The total cost of 6 years there is $80,718 (including government contributions) - and this is for a regional school, which in the DET book, is "more expensive" to run.
Compare that total cost of $80,718 for high school to $110,586 for an average state school.
Yet somehow, St Paul's is an "elite" school, and the funds it gets from the government - about $1.5 million per year - should be slashed.
I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. Those that love the state system tell us it's under resourced. OK, it gets less cash per head than the top 20 private schools in the state. However, it actually gets at least 35% MORE than the schools in the bottom half of the "elite" table, and certainly more than the other 900 or so private schools that are out there.
I could spend the next year grinding through reports to build up a more complete picture, but I think it is fair to say that the DET is not under resourced. What it does with those resources is another matter. I think it wastes them like a drunken sailor with three days to live.