Thanks everyone for your replies so far, it's really interesting to see both sides of the coin. And, as I said earlier, I have never taught (nor had aspirations to teach) in the private sector, so my impressions and thoughts on private schooling are heavily influenced by anecdotes and gossip from others
Hannahsmum, I would definitely be investigating your DD1's school and pushing them to give you a definitive answer as to why they will not accept DD2. Louellyn is a lawyer, and so I'd be very inclined to believe her when she says that if challenged, the school would have to prove that by accepting your daughter, it would cost them to update/integrate facilities that they currently to not have, or have access to.
I feel I should also point out at this juncture, that all my experiences of teaching are based on what most would define as not just a small school, but a tiny school! We have a whole school population of around 43, made up of 26 families. We have 3 grades (P/1, 2/3/4, 4/5/6) and we have 4 teachers (2 part-time) a principal (and my apologies to come off snobby, but the headmaster/mistress of a school is spelt principal, not principle ) and 2 teaching aides. We also have access to a visiting library and art van on rotating fortnights. All students from grade 2 up have their own laptop, and grade sizes are usually around the 12-13 mark (although I have 18 this year.)
Now, on paper, that makes my school look really good. But to visit our school, you would see lots of kids in half uniform and some who disregard it altogether. (We're just happy they show up most of the time... absenteeism is an issue with a few families) You would see a very large grounds, beautifully kept, a large undercover playground, plenty of asphelt (sp?) a large outdoor learning area and several sheds. The school buildings themselves have grown from the original, built in 1920 or so, and so as you can image, they are not all high-tech.. it does keep a constant stream of money to keep them safe and useable.
We have IWB's in every classroom, and families are only responsible to pay school fees and camp fees. (last year 5/6's went to Melbourne to experience city life for a week.. this year we are going to Sovereign Hill to experience life during the gold rush- pretty impressive camps) The school pays for ALL stationary, including 6 different books, 2 text books, all pens, pencils, texta's etc. The school also pays for programs like Intrepica, Mathletics and Reading Eggs (which I am aware other schools make families pay for.)
Our staff is made up of one leading teacher about to retire (but I stress in no way has given up her love of the profession, she is still an inspiration to me and such an innovative thinker), a young go-getter who is working wonders with the grade 1's when I struggled with them as preps last year (just not my forte- we all now know I LOVE my upper school kids!) and myself, who- if I am not at home with my own children, I am at school planning, prepping, assessing or reporting.
There are many locals who STILL send their children 20 minutes away on a bus to the private school... and I guess I just don't get why? Why, after everything we can offer, are we still seen as inferior? *shrug* It's no big deal I guess.. I'm just trying to understand what people think of public/private etc.
(apologies for my waffling of late And my spelling- my keyboard is missing about 5 keys- thanks children )