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Catholic primary schools to reduce fees

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In an unprecedented move, the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools (SACCS) will reduce school fees at every Catholic parish primary school in the State in 2021.

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Communities of all South Australian Catholic schools were informed of SACCS’ decision this week and parents and carers will receive specific information on the level of fee reduction for students by the end of Term 3.

Chair of SACCS, Professor Denis Ralph, said all schools were being asked to make meaningful reductions. While the minimum annual reduction would be $100 per student, many would be substantially higher with most schools expecting a reduction between $300 and $500 per student per year.

The move is part of a three-year plan to improve the affordability of Catholic education, extending the fee reductions to Catholic secondary and Reception – Year 12 schools.

“The Commission is acutely aware of the need to ensure high quality outcomes as well as to continue to support families whose circumstances have been affected by COVID-19. Catholic education is committed to providing greater accessibility and affordability for all families enrolled, or considering a Catholic education,” Professor Ralph said.

Vicar General of the Adelaide Catholic Archdiocese, Fr Philip Marshall, in welcoming the announcement, said the initiative comes at a time when the COVID pandemic is placing increased financial pressures on many families.

“I’m sure it will be comforting for our families to know that we are working to deliver lower fees in Catholic primary schools from 2021,” Fr Marshall said.

Dr Neil McGoran, Director Catholic Education SA, said the fee reduction would not impact the quality of education.

“We will continue providing high-quality education for over 46,000 students, with even more affordable fees,” he said.

“The fee reductions will be calculated on a school-by-school basis and will take into account each school’s circumstances and family needs.”

Catholic Education SA will also move to a simpler fee structure with one set fee for tuition and a reduced fee for lower-income families.

“In the past, some schools have had a range of levies and charges. We are moving to simplified fee structures that will give parents greater clarity and predictability,” Dr McGoran said.

“As always, there is also the opportunity for any family to discuss their particular financial situation with the school principal. During the pandemic, we have provided fee remissions to many school families. We remain committed to providing an opportunity for all students to benefit from a Catholic education, despite the financial circumstances families may be experiencing.”

This announcement is part of the Making Catholic Schools More Affordable Initiative which will extend to Diocesan secondary and Reception – Year 12 schools with SACCS working in partnership with all Catholic schools to explore broader fee reductions over the three-year period.

It follows a reduction in fees from the beginning of 2020 at St Thomas More School in Elizabeth Park, St Mary Magdalene’s School in Elizabeth Grove, and Catherine McAuley School in Craigmore.

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