King's School forced to explain spending on plunge pool, flights to British regatta

King’s School forced to explain spending on plunge pool, flights to British regatta

In a separate letter, the NSW Department of Education said enquiries had been sent to King’s regarding the use of school funds.

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“As this matter is the subject of ongoing enquiry, it is not appropriate to comment further,” a spokesperson said. “The Department of Education routinely requests information from non-government schools to ensure compliance with not-for-profit funding requirements.”

It is understood the school is required to respond to the state government this week.

King’s, which has about 2000 students and is located in North Parramatta, charges fees that range from $24,000 for pre-school to $40,000 for year 12 and $69,000 for tuition and boarding in high school.

The school did not respond to questions over the letters from the state and federal governments. King’s previously defended a controversial trip by its headmaster and his wife to the Royal Henley Regatta, saying it was standard practice among independent schools to fly principals overseas, and traditional for principals to go business class. One estimate put the cost of flights and accommodation at $45,000, but the school later said that cost was “grossly exaggerated”.

Paul Kidson, an education leadership academic at the Australian Catholic University and a former independent school principal, said that regardless of how much money private schools receive from Commonwealth and state coffers, schools must be responsible and accountable for the expenditure.

“It should be done in a way that is both transparent and gives confidence about the appropriateness of spending,” he said.

“The issue about transparency is critical. Independent schools get funding from three main sources, the Commonwealth, limited amounts from the state government, and the rest of it from parent fees and other private sources. And a school like King’s will get the vast majority of its funding from fees,” he said.

“But at a time when society is looking to schools for what they contribute to who we are as a community, we should be working even harder to build confidence and trust in the schools, not erode it.”

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