When is finding a private school like booking a holiday? A new website is inviting independent schools to post last-minute discounted enrolment vacancies that become available.
The site is similar to travel websites that list hotel vacancies at cheaper rates close to the booking date.
The founders of the School Places website said 11 schools had signed up so far, including Wesley College, Ivanhoe Grammar School and Shelford Girls' Grammar. The founders said schools that had signed up were offering discounts of up to 30 per cent for between one and six years.
The site's chairman and former Test cricketer, Paul Sheahan, said School Places was not designed for schools to increase their enrolments from their usual demographic groups. "This sits quite separately from their normal enrolment procedure. This is introducing them to an entirely new audience," he said.
Mr Sheahan said some parents were comfortable making "informed decisions in a hurry" about where their child would go to school. "This may be because they’ve moved, because they are unhappy with their current school or simply because they want to make a sound financial decision once their economic circumstances are known."
Site founder Jeremy Wein said School Places could also help attract international students to Australian schools. "We know the international market is a huge pool for a number of independent schools," he said.
Mr Sheahan, a former principal at Geelong College and former headmaster at Melbourne Grammar, said the site could give independent schools an added source of revenue that was previously unavailable. Schools set their own terms for the enrolment offers. "It's in the hands of the school how long they wish the offer to remain in place. We've suggested to them two years is a pretty good time," he said.