Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why my chidren have ended up at a private school

As promised I would like to explain that I don't perceive "brands" of schools and my way of valuing schools to send my children to has, if anything, an anti-brand bias. Having gone to public schools most of my life, and having found them adequate, but variable, I had no reason to suppose that I would pay more money to send my children to a private school. Annandale was a new public school when it first opened, was the closest public primary school, and had a "catchment area" that was quite well off. All factors that made for an easy choice of school for my first three children - a total of 18 child years. The closest public High school had been ruled out for consistent word of mouth criticism for lack of a suitable bullying policy. Not content with hearsay associated with these kind of criticisms, I counted as most reliable data points students and parents that I knew, that had direct experience. All of the data pointed to the principal being the key to the issue. Had the principal left before our eldest had finished grade 5 or 6 - we could well have changed our mind.

From that point, the primary motivation became a fear of our kids being zoned into an unacceptable school, or being in limbo on a waiting list not knowing until too close to the starting date. A second motivation came in the form of our 4th, who was due to start prep the year after our first moved to high school. We were scrambling to see which school had better programs for autistic children. A third motivation was the struggle of doing pickups and drop-offs to geographically distant schools. A fourth was being able to get our children into instrumental programs, which were free but oversubscribed in Annandale.

Private schools, especially Catholic ones, have early enrolment deadlines, which means early acceptance of a place there. Informal surveys of all the special needs childrens' parents that we knew noted that Annandale was not catering well for special needs children. Ryan Catholic has a large primary and high school close together which made pickups/dropoffs easier. Instrumental programs at Ryan were also a lot more accessible, although more expensive. A clinching factor for doing the entire switch was the catering for large families. Fees for four children at the school was less than double what it would be for a single child (which makes it about one fifth the price of the Grammar/Cathedral brands) AND the large catholic population of the school doesn't give you stares if you have any more than a couple of children.

So although we are spending a little more money than we would with public schools, the difference is much smaller than most people imagine.

I had a line-ball decision after grade eight and grade nine because my oldest wanted to change to Pimlico. The clincher was that the motivation was primarily to be with friends than any particular academic or otherwise benefit. I am really not sure if the decision was right, but the balance of various risks was better to stick with the school she had been in.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Actually, six is a perfect number

I am traditionally coy about revealing intentions on increasing my family size. Don't feel bad - it's just a Parigi tradition. I figure I've left it long enough now, and I'm really chuffed at having a baby (due Dec 24th 2010) in the same year as two of my blogosphere friends. As usual, my family has given their traditionally negative perspective - so, in your comments, if you don't berate me in an argumentative fashion, I will not consider you family :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Miners aren't as important as they think they are

Bring on the mining tax! I can't believe the amount of traction miners are getting with their campaign against the super profits tax. Australia is not strong because of mining - the economy is flexible enough to take advantage of whatever boom is going. I have to give credit for the Government "socialising the gains" in this way. It is even a safety net for the miners if conditions go sour, the reduced tax if profits disappear is really a safety net - that is how progressive taxation works.

On the flip side of the coin, on our second biggest earner (correct me if I'm wrong) - higher education, the government has slammed on the brakes for foreign student intakes. I still can't comprehend why we are paranoid enough to think that young immigrants paying through the nose to get into our country, but still being subject to long term assessment should be slowed. When I compare the amount of money the Government "invest" in my children to get them through until they are employable, and compare it to how much they spend on a foreign student immigrant (negative money) - there is no question. Other countries are making the investment, we are getting their taxes. Once the governments in India and China realise this, it is they who will put up the barriers.

I'm having my six children before the government realises that imports are cheaper.