The index estimates over a 13-year period the cost of an independent education for a child starting school in Sydney in 2019 is $461,999 – more than 50 per cent above the national average of $298,689. School fees easily accounted for the most expensive component, followed by the musical equipment (around $465 a year), excursions ($554 a year) and devices ($996 a year).
The cost of a government education in Sydney over 13 years is $66,470, making it more affordable than in Brisbane and in Melbourne, and 3.3 per cent below the national average. The cost of a Catholic education in Sydney over the same period is $114,531 – almost 10 per cent the national average.
Mr Craven said school costs still added up to about $1000 when his son was in a public school.
Parents in all school sectors are facing the cost of new uniforms, shoes, books and activity fees as term one begins this week.
Jack Stevens, chief executive of education finance provider Edstart, said the cost of extras has gone up steadily alongside fees, as under-resourced public schools shift technology and other costs to parents and private schools begin to make voluntary levies compulsory.
“Most public schools have a bring-your-own-device program where you’ve got to buy a laptop or phone upfront and excursions or outdoor programs can also be big one-off costs,” Mr Stevens said.
He also said that both extra costs and fees, which are more than $38,200 for year 12 students at Sydney’s most expensive private school SCEGGS Darlinghurst this year, are likely to keep going up.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any particular change in that, it’s just a way of life for schools,” Mr Stevens said.
“But a lot of families will tend to avoid thinking about fees and costs and how they’re going to manage it when a little bit of pre-planning can help a lot, especially coming into peak periods when there are multiple kids overlapping in high school.”
Mr Craven said planning ahead for both the one-off expenses and fees has made things easier but the cost of schooling has meant sacrifices for his family.
“A lot of schools let you break fees up quarterly but it’s still a big chunk of change to fit in over monthly bills,” Mr Craven said.
He said his wife went back to working full time and they considered moving away from Clovelly.
“We don’t really go on holidays anymore, that’s more of a personal problem,” Mr Craven said.
“When it’s your kids, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
“We also know we have a decision to make about whether we go public or private in a year’s time when [our daughter Indi] goes to school next year.”
Mr Craven said he is looking at local primary schools but will likely send Indi, 3, to Reddam House as well once she gets to year 5.
“She’s in the early learning school at Reddam and loves it and knows that her brother’s there too, and we love the school,” he said.
Education reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald