Hope William-Smith

Sydney’s most expensive schools are spending up to 200 million dollars to attract new students.

The NSW Department of Planning has revealed that a handful of Sydney’s most expensive schools have proposed developments totaling more than $200 million each in a bid to attract new students and boost already soaring school fees.

Schools charging between $25 000 and $50 000 per annum for Year 12 students are set to spend the millions on developing new state of the art facilities. These include a ‘retail and hospitality hub’ at St Ignatius Riverview, an Olympic pool with underwater cameras and timers at Trinity Grammar School and a six storey building focusing on science and technology and featuring a new indoor pool for Wenona School.

Residents around schools fear developments will impact on views, privacy, noise and conservation of environment for affected suburbs – issues which are being treated as serious concerns by the planning department. Residents in Cremorne have brought attention to a $46 million dollar performing arts centre and rooftop carpark development at SCECGS Redlands as part of a $104 million dollar development initiative, which they fear will worsen traffic in the area, which already struggles as part of the direct byline from the North Shore to Sydney CBD.

Julie Townsend, Principal of St Catherine’s School in Waverley, feels that schools need to consider community concerns, but schools also need to consider parents who are paying high fees.

“The days when a decent education was good enough are over,” she said.

The school is currently battling the NSW police and two local councils over the development of a new pool and auditorium complete with orchestra pit worth nearly $65 million.

Private schools are increasingly facing difficulties in their bid to expand and re develop and are commonly being referred to as their own suburbs, with schools often expanding down and across roads and intersections, much to the indignation of residents who live in close proximity.

Dr Geoff Newcombe, the executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, said that parents funded the facilities.

“They should be applauded for making the education of their children a high priority,” he said.

Top tier Independent schools are receiving only $5-10 million a year in the recurrent state and federal government funding schemes.