Home' Capricornus Quarterly : CQ Dec 2017 Jan 2018 Contents “Parents at Grammar are investing in the highest
quality education available in Central Queensland and
do so because of the opportunities RGS provides.”
Q: Rockhampton Grammar announced an
increase in fees of 2% for 2018? Why is
that necessary when other Schools are
freezing or discounting their rates?
A: Parents at Grammar are investing in
the highest quality education available in
Central Queensland and do so because of the
opportunities RGS provides, the resources
available to students here, our excellent teachers
and strong education outcomes which our
students achieve. Funding comes from state
and federal governments and the fees parents
pay. Other schools may be subsidised through
a religion- based system or otherwise; we
do not have those type of revenue sources.
RGS teachers’ wages increase 3% each year
under our EBA and there are things like rising
electricity costs, rates, and maintenance.
We have investigated alternative cost structures,
such as sibling discounts, but these alternatives
raise issues in terms of equity and the impact
they would have on our overall financial health,
both of which are essential to the sustainability
of RGS. If these decisions are not right, schools
can find themselves, sometimes, on the brink
of financial collapse. We need to maintain a
balance and good finances. RGS does offer
a limited number of bursaries to families
who have a genuine demonstrated need.
Q: How is the School’s financial health compared
to when you were here as a student?
A: I believe it is much stronger today. My
involvement with the school goes back to 1970
and there was a decision in the late 70’s to
reintroduce co- education (as the School was
originally co- ed in 1881). That was a fantastic
decision at the time. The School needed to
make that change due to financial and social
concerns and it set a good platform for the
decades that followed. There had been primary
schools of various sizes and forms at RGS
throughout our history but the introduction of a
complete Primary School to Grammar in 1990
also strengthened the School’s financial base.
The School does carry debt. The Annual Report
is on the web (http://rgs.qld.edu.au/annual-
reports) for everybody to read about the level of
debt we carry and we closely monitor debt-per-
student. If Schools have no debt, they may have
a lazy balance sheet. If they have too much, they
may get into trouble. The Board is very conscious
of, and responsible about, the debt it carries,
the fees it sets and the recurrent income it has.
Q: The debt therefore is for infrastructure?
A: Correct. There is no debt for recurrent
expenditure in our balance sheet. It is all
capital debt. We try to make smart investments
in our facilities. We had long recognised, for
example, the need for more sporting facilities
and green space for our students. When
Rugby Park was listed for sale last year, we
were able to respond quickly and acquire the
asset. Our role is to look after today, but also
position the School for the next 10-50 years.
Q: The bulk of operating expenditure,
though, is on salaries?
A: Yes. This is recurrent expenditure; correct.
But we also see it as a long-term investment
in our teaching profession and the education
outcomes of our students. We expect a lot
from staff and they are very generous with
their time, talent and expertise. It’s hard to put
a price on that level of human engagement.
Q. You personally believe very strongly in
teacher excellence and the investments the
School makes in its teachers. The Board
endorsed the School’s Master’s Degree
programme designed and brought in by the
Headmaster in recent years. There is emphasis
on other professional development including
the School’s leadership programme, which
two dozen staff have now completed. Why
does the Board prioritise those things?
A: Our teachers and staff members are our
most valuable resource. You can put a teacher
in a classroom or laboratory that has the
best resources and latest technology, but if
that person is a poor teacher or underskilled,
you get poor outcomes. It ’s said that
fantastic teachers can teach under a tree.
Resources are important but the Board
and Phillip always want to improve teaching
standards. The Board set the Headmaster
a challenge to improve our teaching skill-
set so Phillip came up with the concept of
a partnership with Griffith University for a
Master’s Degree and the results are now
starting to come back. It energised teachers
and our standards are improving. (Editor’s
note: 12 teachers have now graduated and
others are enrolled in the programme).
Q: RGS is unique in that it pays for its teachers’
Master’s degrees. Is that risky? Why do that?
A: To get the benefits. Generally, the better you
educate people, the better the outcomes. That
is proven. We also think it complements the
package that we already offer new teachers
who come to the School. It is important to
attract good people and retain good people.
Q. Sometimes that is a hard thing to do in
regional Queensland, not only in education
but in other professions as well?
A. Yes. There should be a much higher
communit y obligation to our teachers but I
just do not see happening in Australia. My wife
Chairman of the Board
of Trustees of The
School, Mr Brad Beasley,
is a past student (RGS ‘ 75)
and past parent (daughter
Alyssa, RGS ‘07). In Part 2 of
the Chairman’s interview with
Capricornus Quarterly Mr
Beasley, a partner at South
Geldard Lawyers, provides
a further insight into our
School finances, teacher
excellence and more.
(Part 1, featured in the Term 3
Capricornus Quarterly, provided
an insight into Mr Beasley’s own
school days at RGS and the
role of the Board of Trustees)
Q&A: Boarder, day stude nt, parent,Trustee,Chair
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