The conversations of life

Sleeping on the street to get your children into a school? Yes, in Brisbane

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The parents camped out on the footpath in a line outside the Ascot State School in the city’s northeast last week. Why?

They were trying to secure one of the few out-of-catchment places at the school, which is considered one of the most prestigious in the state.

Ascot is a well-heeled suburb with an average house price of $1.35 million – that’s compared to a Queensland average of $460,000.

While families who live in the local area are guaranteed places, others compete for the remaining spots with some sleeping in tents or swags for more than three nights to put in their enrolment forms.

The things we do for love?

They are not the only ones going to any lengths for their child’s education.

Principals at high-demand schools in Sydney are asking parents to sign statutory declarations to make sure they are not “gaming” enrolment policies, with some reportedly using friends and relatives’ addresses to get into a catchment area. Some are renting a house for just six months.

Families are also being asked to provide four pieces of evidence to show they live in the catchment, such as bills, rates and tenancy agreements, with those who submit false information facing a $22,000 fine or potentially even jail.

It sounds extreme – but I can understand why these parents would do anything to give their child the best start in life.

In our recent story on Australian kids’ math and science results, we highlighted a study that found our kids had made no improvement since 1995 – while other countries had zipped past us.

As one of the Brisbane parents told the ABC: “It is what it is, it’s what you do for your children. You put your kids first all the time.”

The potential Ascot parents must now wait until October to find out if their child has been lucky enough to be accepted. I’ve got my fingers crossed for them.

Annie Donaldson

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.


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