Exclusive research released today has discovered 68% of parents feel either a little or a lot of financial pressure to pay for school fees, irrespective of the school type.
The ASG Parents’ Report Card discovered 80% of households with an annual household income of between $37,001 - $87,000 reported feeling either a little or a lot of financial pressure paying for school fees, compared to 53% of families with an annual household income of $180,000+.
Based on 2,263 survey responses of parents from all states and territories who have a child at school, the Parents’ Report Card revealed four out of five parents (81%) are either satisfied or very satisfied with the school their children attend.
More than three in four parents (77%) are either satisfied or very satisfied with the academic progress of their children. Interestingly, parents indicated higher levels of satisfaction with the academic progress of their daughters than their sons (81% v 76%).
In relation to school funding and performance, 72% of parents, irrespective of the school type, believe their children’s school requires more funding, a better allocation of funds or both.
ASG Director of Policy & Advocacy, Wahdiah Hopper, said this may indicate that education funding is a bigger election battleground than previously thought.
“Interestingly, many parents argued that funding should be prioritised for teachers, who are often lost in the broader school funding debate,” Ms Hopper told The Educator.
Ms Hopper said the reason that ASG established the Parent Report Card was because of “the importance of parents as partners in education”.
“They contribute to a child’s success in schooling. Parents are really the first teachers for their children. They teach them to speak, to read and write. They help them grow and learn about the world,” she said.
“Despite this, parental voice is often missing in some education debates.”
On the whole, Hopper believes the report is a “good news story” for schools.
“I was really chuffed by the fact that most parents are satisfied with their schools their children are attending. This reflects positively on the teachers and leaders.”
Ms Hopper said she wasn’t altogether surprised by parental concerns over rising education costs.
“With less discretionary money to spend, it’s going to be harder for parents to pay for education. Low wage growth and rising living costs are a big factor in this.”
Ms Hopper said ASG advocates that parents save money so that they can afford education costs in the long run.
“Parents are very aspirational for their children and only want the best for them, and sometimes they will incur extra costs, including things like additional tuition, digital devices and school camps and excursions. Schooling can be very competitive and high-stakes in this regard,” she said.
Ms Hopper says where families live, the stage of schooling and what school sector their child is enrolled in can make a significant difference for parents when it comes to affordability.
“Meeting parents’ aspirations for their children’s education increasingly involves having a disciplined approach to savings,” Ms Hopper said.
The take-away for principals and education leaders, she says, is to be mindful of the financial pressures that parents are experiencing.
“Whilst parents are happy and satisfied with their school, they do feel pressure to pay school fees, so principals should be sensitive and responsive towards, as I know many are, parents who may be struggling financially.”