Inspired by website wotif, a site offering last minute cheap hotel deals, ‘School Places’ is the world’s first online marketplace for private school places, helps families search for and secure a discounted place in a private school via a transparent and simple online enrolment process.
The site launched in Victoria in April, receiving 35,000 hits on its first day, but the Association of Independent Schools NSW has raised concerns.
Executive director Geoff Newcombe said discounted fees may cause create resentment amongst full fee paying parents and lead to an environment where parents choose not to wait on a list, instead opting for last minute specials.
“If large discounts on fees are being offered the school needs to explain the rationale for this to its existing parents and school community,” he said.
“Heavily discounting fees may not be a sustainable practice since schools need to maintain their educational offerings to meet parent expectations.”
But the operators of the site said the system could help schools.
“The cost of running schools is growing faster than family incomes,” chief executive Natalie Mactier said.
“The kinds of fee increases we’ve seen in recent years just aren’t sustainable. Schools need to find new ways to increase their revenue and ensuring every vacant place is filled is a very good option.”
Several schools in Victoria and a handful in NSW have signed up, offering discounts of 10 per 40 per cent. So far more than 500 NSW parents have registered to be told when their school of choice has a discounted vacancy.
Parents can also search the site and filter results for location and enrolment year.
Registered schools pay a commission to the site when a vacancy is filled.