Posh schools use public money to up their opulence

Wealthy private schools around Sydney are set to splurge on building upgrades and new developments, some worth tens of millions of dollars. According to an investigation by Fairfax journalist Pallavi Singhal, more than $365 million is planned to be spent by just seven elite schools.

One such renovation is a plan by Scots College to transform its library into a Scottish castle. According to the design statement submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment:

“Features of the composition include a small tower to mark the entry; grand bay windows to take advantage of views to the oval and beyond while flooding the interior with daylight; a small turret on the NE corner stands above the ground level entry & large windows look along the embankment to the north: castellations surround the upper terrace.”

But don’t worry about it being too ostentatious: “Treatments towards the north west are more subdued in reference to Aspinall House, ensuring that the building neither detracts nor overwhelms its heritage significant neighbour”.

And all for only $25 million.

At Loreto Kirribilli, plans totalling more than $103 million include “a new five storey Innovation Centre plus roof terrace, including an integrated connector pod” in the West Precinct and “a new six storey vertical connection pod” in the north.

Most public schools struggle to buy textbooks and whiteboard markers, let alone multi-storey connector pods (whatever those are).

This gap between public and private schools is widening, helped by the government. Singhal noted in her investigation that Loreto Kirribilli last year received almost double the federal funding it should have under the Gonski guidelines. Those pods were paid for by public money, which should have gone to public schools.