It's the time of year that parents of privately-educated children dread: finding out their school fees will be going up in the new year.
But for the second year in a row, one Canberra independent school will not be raising its fees.
Emmaus Christian School principal Erik Hofsink said the school board decided not to increase fees in light of savings made during the COVID-19 lockdown and to recognise the hard work parents put in homeschooling their children.
"It can be very sensitive to talk about fees but our parents have never asked for it and didn't demand it from the school," he said.
"They simply did what they were required to do, working in complete collaboration with the school and accepted the teachers' lead and guidance, but they had to do the hard work at home with the students. And so our board just wanted to recognise that and say let's not raise the fees for next year."
The school has an all-inclusive tuition fee to cover subject costs and excursions throughout the year and a separate building levy.
Parents were reimbursed for camps that did not go ahead but savings were also made on excursions, stationary, water and electricity charges.
Staff will get their pay increases in line with the Christian schools enterprise agreement despite the fee freeze.
Fees range from $4839 per annum for kindergarten to year 3 up to $7621 per annum for years 9 and 10.
Most Canberra private schools have not yet released their 2022 fee schedule, except Burgmann Anglican School where tuition fees will increase by between $400 and $500 per student depending on year level. The annual tuition fee for a year 9 to 12 student will be $12,850.
Mr Hofsink said this year fewer families asked for assistance for their school fees due to financial hardship compared to last year.
He said not raising the fees was an important display of transparency.
"It just really enhances community, it makes your parents feel that they are valued, and there's this general high level of trust within the school, with the management and the governance of the school... It is a gift that that gives back to the school as well."
The school is preparing to reopen in line with the ACT's return to school plan. Almost all staff have been vaccinated and plenty of masks and hand sanitiser have been purchased.
The school bought air purifiers for areas of the preschool where the ventilation could be improved. Elsewhere in the school teachers have been briefed to open the windows to allow natural ventilation.
Mr Hofsink said parents were desperate to get their children back to school and had confidence in the safety measures put in place.
"Absolutely the message we get is it's time for the kids to return."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: