Brisbane Boys’ College at Toowong
Brisbane Boys’ College at Toowong

Pay more, get less school time

STUDENTS at some of Brisbane's most expensive private schools are spending four fewer weeks a year in the classroom than their peers at state schools.

An analysis of school term dates by News Queensland shows students at the well-heeled Marist College Ashgrove spent 175 days at school in 2018, while students at St Margaret's Anglican Girls School in Ascot and St Peter's Lutheran College in Indooroopilly spent 176 days in the classroom, 23 days fewer than pupils in Brisbane's state school system.

Parents who paid $25,900 a year in fees to send their sons to Brisbane Grammar School, or $24,125 to send their daughters to Brisbane Girls' Grammar School, also had shorter terms, with both schools among the first in Queensland to finish classes for the year.

Year 9-11 students at Brisbane Grammar School finished the 2018 school year on November 23, while Years 5-8 students followed on November 27.

Students at Brisbane Girls' Grammar finished for the year on either November 23 or 27, while state school students will remain at their desks until the middle of December.

But Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson said the strong performance of independent schools in academic and sporting pursuits showed it was beneficial for them to have the flexibility to structure their calendars and programs in the best way they saw fit to meet the needs of their students - both in and out of term.

 

Working parents Samantha and Morney Plescia with daughters Angeline, 6, Chloe, 10, and Michaela, 16, use a pathchwork of vacation care, camps, friends and neighbours as well as their own work leave to cover the kids’ supervison during school holidays. Picture: Lachie Millard
Working parents Samantha and Morney Plescia with daughters Angeline, 6, Chloe, 10, and Michaela, 16, use a pathchwork of vacation care, camps, friends and neighbours as well as their own work leave to cover the kids’ supervison during school holidays. Picture: Lachie Millard

 

"Many Queensland independent schools (have) students heavily involved in before and after-school sports training, music practice, competitions and events," Mr Robertson said.

"The holidays are no different, with schools hosting sporting competitions, pre-season training camps, international exchanges, and a host of other cultural events, during the holidays many students are also engaged in study tours, social justice missions overseas or competitions."

Brisbane Grammar School headmaster Anthony Micallef said that, in addition to teaching weeks, "BGS teachers spend about three additional weeks at school each year, engaged with professional learning and development activities".

Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network executive officer Sue Kloeden said school holidays often meant a juggling act for working families.

"Most employees only get four weeks' annual leave, so the challenge of providing care for children during school holiday periods is felt by many parents," she said.

But she said independent schools often had busy extra-curricular and co-curricular programs which relieved some of the pressure for parents.

"It's not unusual for students to be off on a study tour, overseas language exchange or sports or music camp during holiday time," she said.

 

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Mr Robertson also said private school students were often at school for more time throughout the year than their state school counterparts.

"I reject the suggestion that students at independent schools are in class for any less time than students in other schools," he said.

"Many independent schools have longer school days which offset their sometimes shorter term times, resulting in students receiving more hours of teaching instruction over the course of the school year."

St Margaret's Anglican Girls School principal Ros Curtis said her school had a longer day than the average 9am-3pm day that state students were required to do.

"Our school operates from 8.20am to 3.20pm, Monday to Thursday and 8.20am to 3pm on Friday - on average an additional 4hr 40min of school time each week," she said.

"We can approximate an additional 168 hours of teaching across the school year, within school hours, which is an additional 28 days."



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