Some of Australia's wealthiest private schools are reaping millions of dollars from the JobKeeper coronavirus subsidy.Australia's most expensive schoo
Some of Australia’s wealthiest private schools are reaping millions of dollars from the JobKeeper coronavirus subsidy.
Australia’s most expensive school, Geelong Grammar School, which costs $269,820 for senior school due to compulsory boarding fees, is one of those receiving the taxpayer subsidy to pay some staff.
Geelong Grammar is an elite school which has a campus in Melbourne‘s exclusive suburb of Toorak and earnt $38million in 2018 including $7million from Federal Government funds.
Australia’s most expensive school, Geelong Grammar, is paying staff members with JobKeeper
Geelong Grammar (pictured) charges $269,820 for a high-school education and almost 80 percent of its students are boarders including international students
At least one quarter of Victoria’s 219 independent schools are receiving the $1500 per fortnight subsidy, which comes on top of millions of dollars in federal handouts, alumni donations and fees of up to $40,000 per year.
The Australian Taxation Office has said 26,185 education and training organisations across Australia are enrolled in the JobKeeper scheme.
To be eligible for JobKeeper, a business or a school must have a 30 per cent fall in turnover for an aggregated turnover of $1 billion or less, the Federal Government says on its website.
The JobKeeper subsidy is for businesses that lose 30 percent of their revenue in order to keep people employed during the pandemic. Pictured: hundreds queue at Centrelink in March
Many private schools have struggled since schools were closed in March for coronavirus.
Some granted hardship fee deferrals, or introduced payment plans, or even gave discounts to parents of up to a quarter off their fees.
Nearly 80 per cent of Geelong Grammar’s students are boarders.
Last semester it was forced to turn away international students and could not charge boarding fees due to the coronavirus.
Geelong Grammar principal Rebecca Cody told the Herald Sun that Australia’s most expensive school would be adversely affected until it can resume normal services, fees and billing.
Other schools paying staff through JobKeeper include Wesley College, which charges $216,520 in compulsory fees to put a child through high school and which earnt $115 million in 2018 including $11 million in federal funds.
Wesley has received up to $13.5 million from the JobKeeper scheme.
Wesley College principal Nicholas Evans said his school had given financial hardship fee deferrals to more than 400 families and had suspended residential programs.
‘The harsh reality was that up to 200 staff members would have lost their employment in 2020 if not for the JobKeeper program,’ Mr Evans said.
Wesley College has received up to $13.5 million from JobKeeper. It charges $216,520 to put a child through high school
The Knox School, Melbourne, which charges up to $25,000 per year in fees, is also paying staff through JobKeeper.
The Knox School, which charges up to $25,000 per year in fees or $142,258 for a high school education, earnt $16 million in 2018 including $3.6 million in federal subsidies, and is also paying staff through JobKeeper.
Knox School principal Allan Shaw said many families had been hurt financially and his school had lost 30 percent of its revenue in the pandemic.
‘International students make up 10 percent of our income and this has also impacted our revenue,’ he told the Herald Sun.
In April, the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) warned that a business approach to the coronavirus JobKeeper subsidy wouldn’t work for schools.
NCEC Executive Director Jacinta Collins said high fee private schools would be able to access federal wage subsidies to retain crucial staff, but low fee non-government schools could miss out.
‘High fee Independent schools will be assessed as losing more income because they are starting from a much higher base,’ she said in a statement on the NCEC website.
Some in the industry believe that JobKeeper is benefiting some schools over others, giving them an advantage.
Catholic Education Melbourne which represents 153,352 students, issued a memo stating schools must apply their measurement of loss in good faith so as not to call into question the school’s integrity.
The Australian Tax Office has also warned schools not to change invoice times or defer fee payments in order to meet Jobkeeper eligibility requirements.