The West

Big jump in Year 7 fees

Parents of children starting Year 7 at a public high school next year will be asked to pay almost four times as much in fees as they were this year.

All parents are expected to pay a voluntary contribution, set at $60 for public primary school students and $235 for secondary students from Years 8 to 10.

A handful of public high schools that also have Year 7 classes now charge parents at the primary school rate.

The Education Department confirmed the voluntary fees would rise when Year 7 became the first year of high school next year. "As Year 7 students will be classed as secondary students from next year, it is intended that voluntary fees will be charged at the secondary rate," a spokesman said.

Schools keep the fees to put toward the costs of materials and services used directly by students, including stationery, art materials, textbooks and photocopying.

Last year only about half of all high school parents paid the voluntary fee, with the Education Department recording an average secondary schools' collection rate of just 53.5 per cent.

The WA Council of State School Organisations, which represents public school P&C groups, said it was possible that even fewer parents would pay the fee next year because families faced increased living costs from the impact of other State and Federal decisions.

"The situation with voluntary contributions and charges is not unique to Year 7s and there will always be parents who can't or will choose not to make the payment," council president Kylie Catto said.

"This number could be affected due to the higher costs involved of having Year 7s in a high school setting."

Acting Education Minister John Day said the State Government would have to change the Education Act to recognise Year 7s as high school students so the secondary voluntary rate could be requested from parents.

The West Australian

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