Parents opting for private schools

BUNDABERG parents are choosing private schools over state schools with enrolment figures showing a decrease in students undertaking public education.

This year 12,728 students enrolled in Wide Bay North District state schools, 129 less than the 12,857 who were enrolled in 2008.

“Enrolments in the Bundaberg area have remained relatively stable over the past three years,” North Coast regional director Greg Peach said.

In comparison, the region’s Catholic and independent schools have been growing.

Bundaberg Christian College principal Mark Bensley said the school’s growth had been steady in the past six years.

“Our school opened with less than 50 students in 1996 and we currently have 635,” Mr Bensley said.

The school has risen from 580 students in 2009.

Bundaberg’s four Catholic schools – St Joseph’s, St Patrick’s and St Mary’s primary schools and Shalom College – have started 2010 with 2174 students compared to 1970 in 2008, an increase of 204 students.

Diocesan director of Catholic education Leesa Jeffcoat said the schools had forecast a positive outlook for future enrolments.

“Catholic schools do allow for a continued increase in student enrolments and while this can bring challenges of a specific nature, Catholic schools are committed to the holistic development of all students, including their faith and values,” she said.

St Luke’s Anglican School also experienced a boost in enrolment numbers, up 29 students with 755 in 2010.

Director of marketing and development Craig Corpe said enrolments would continue to increase.

“There are a few year levels that have a small waiting list and others that have a few vacancies,” Mr Corpe said.

“There is still some capacity across the school, but this is reducing and it could be expected that in the foreseeable future vacancies will be hard to come by.”

None of the schools saw any correlation between enrolment numbers and the release of the NAPLAN test results on the federal government’s MySchool website.

“What schools do as far as pastoral care, extension opportunities through co-curricular programs and generation of values cannot be quantified,” Mr Bensley said.

Shadow Minster for Education Bruce Flegg said the figures showed parents believed their children would get a better education at a private school.

“Parents are concerned about the poor education outcomes and discipline problems in the state sector, which is the result of the system forced on schools by the Bligh Labor Government,” Dr Flegg said.

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