Private schools in Tasmania have strong demand for places in both primary and secondary years.
I have worked with a few clients who have needed to be flexible as they waited to hear if a place could be found for their child. If you are relocating to Tasmania then you don’t have a long lead time and some schools will take this into account. However, with parents reserving places years in advance and siblings often preferenced ahead of new families, it can be difficult to secure a place in the popular year levels.
Parents not fazed by waiting lists and fees in rush to enrol their children in top schools
Some Tasmanian parents are putting their children on waiting lists for private schools even before they are born.
The Friends’ School, Hutchins, Fahan and St Michael’s Collegiate all have waiting lists, with strong demand for kindergarten and years 3, 5 and 7.
That is despite fees close to $10,000 for kindergarten and more than $16,000 for Year 12.
While many small independent schools in regional Tasmania are struggling to survive amid the economic downturn, Hobart’s most expensive schools are reporting increasing enrolment numbers, particularly for primary school years.
Independent Schools Tasmania executive director Tony Crehan said some small schools in regions affected by job losses were struggling to attract students.
However, he said demand was still strong for places in Tasmania’s top private schools, with many parents making major financial sacrifices to fund their children’s education.
“They might want them to go to the school they went to or they have an attraction to that particular curriculum that the school offers,” Mr Crehan said.
About 9000 students are enrolled in the independent system in Tasmania.
Most of the state’s private schools charge an application fee of $50 to $100 and demand a refundable deposit or non-refundable “capital fee” of several hundred dollars to confirm a child’s place.
“Some people are applying for Year 7 enrolment when their children are born. We’ve got applications now for Year 7 in 2024 and 2025,” The Friends’ School commercial manager Nick Hutton said.
Fahan principal Tony Freeman said the girls’ school had recently seen a steady increase in early years enrolments, with waiting lists in place for most junior school classes.
“Some families are contacting us before their children are born,” Mr Freeman said, adding that enrolments into Years 3 and 5 were particularly strong.
“As a result of this trend, we have committed to two streams of Year 5 and Year 6 from 2014,” Mr Freeman said.
Collegiate principal Robyn Kronenberg said her school had also created two new classrooms and employed two new teachers to cater for extra numbers in Years 5 and 6.
Similarly, Hutchins School is undergoing a $3 million expansion of its early learning centre to cope with increasing demand.
“Our waiting lists are heaviest in our earliest year groups, with many families registering at birth or before,” Hutchins headmaster Warwick Dean said.
Launceston’s Scotch Oakburn College principal Andy Muller said most year levels were completely full, although overall enrolments were slightly down with vacancies in Years 4 and 6.
“The economic downturn in a more regional state and a more regional city like Launceston has a bigger impact,” he said.
Launceston Church Grammar headmaster Stephen Norris said there was strong demand from parents wanting to secure places for their children, especially for early learning and grade 7.
He said many parents were turning away from the public sector and looking to private education because they liked being able to send their children to the same school from grades 7-12.
Mr Crehan said Tasmanian private schools experienced a greater intake of students at the senior school level than schools interstate, with many parents believing it would give their children a career head start.
“On the CV they think that, all things being equal, some employers might regard a graduate from an independent school, particularly one with a good reputation, as more employable than someone from a public school,” Mr Crehan said.
Early bird gets education
Little Thomas Hogg is just eight months old, but his educational future is already mapped out.
Mum Kimberley and dad Richard recently secured a Grade 7 spot for their son at The Friends’ School, paying a $1000 deposit to confirm his enrolment.
They are among a growing number of Tasmanian families signing their children up at private schools long before the youngsters are even out of nappies.
Mrs Hogg said after a nightmare experience trying to secure last-minute childcare for her son, she decided some forward thinking was needed when it came to his schooling.
She had heard from family and friends that it could be difficult to secure a spot at a private school and that getting in early was the key to success.
The Hoggs decided to take the plunge and they say plenty of other people they know with babies and young children have been doing the same.
Mr Hogg was educated at The Friends’ School, which was the main reason for enrolling Thomas there.
Mrs Hogg said she also liked the Year 7-12 curriculum of the school.
Booking Thomas in early meant they could now start to budget for the cost of sending him to a private school.
Ironically, while Thomas has high school taken care of, his parents are still unsure where he will attend primary school.
They hope he will be accepted at Howrah Primary – where Mrs Hogg was educated – or at Lauderdale or Bellerive, which are both close to their Oakdowns home.