Outcry Over Forest Lake School’s $9k Holiday Fee for Students

St John’s Anglican College in Forest Lake has been scrutinised for its policy of charging fees that can go as high as $9,000 if parents choose to take their children on holiday during the school term. 

This policy has sparked widespread debate about the balance between the value of traditional education and the experiential learning gained through travel.

Controversial Charges

Reports cited that parents could be paying the full term’s tuition fees as a penalty for taking their children out of school for holidays. This “beyond the control of” test exempts families only in cases of illness, natural disasters, death or illness in the immediate family, or participation in elite sports competitions. 

St John’s Anglican College has attracted criticism for not considering family holidays or financial difficulties as valid reasons for exemption, leading to accusations of unreasonableness.

Public Outcry

The community’s response has been one of shock and dismay. Outraged parents have voiced their concerns by emailing the school and expressing that the additional fee is unjust, especially considering the already significant costs associated with attending the private institution.

Public figures and parenting experts have joined the chorus, including “Today Extra” host David Campbell and parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson. They stressed the importance of educational travel and urged the school to reconsider its position.

The School’s Stance

St John's Anglican College in Forest Lake
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Despite the uproar, St John’s Anglican College has remained tight-lipped, offering no comment on the matter when approached for a response. The school’s policy letter highlighted the need to secure funding grants essential to the school’s budget, indicating that these measures are taken to avoid financial shortfall caused by reduced student attendance.

The financial burden placed on families by this policy is significant. Depending on the term and duration of the holiday, the fees can range from $1,830 to $9,200, in addition to the annual tuition fees, which already stretch from $8,250 to $14,172. 

Education & Learning

This has led to a broader discussion about the accessibility and affordability of private education and whether schools should have the authority to levy such penalties on families seeking to enrich their children’s education through travel.

Supporters say consistent attendance is important for academic success, while critics value real-world experiences.

Published 20-March-2023

St John’s Anglican College Joins Active School Travel Program

For the first time ever, St John’s Anglican College in Forest Lake joined Brisbane’s Active School Travel Program, which asks families to encourage their children to walk, or use a bike, scooter or skateboard to go to school.

Read: Makeovers and Improvements Set for Heathwood Parks and Recreational Spaces

The school joined more than 170 others and over 143,000 students who have participated in some way since the program kicked off in 2004. To celebrate its 20th anniversary this school year, organisers hope to have 30 schools and thousands more students taking part.

Martin Brownlow, Head of Junior School at St John’s, said he hopes the program will promote an active and healthy lifestyle for the school community.

Photo credit: Paul Newman/Google Maps 

“We wanted to join the program to promote an active and healthy lifestyle for our school community,” Mr Brownlow said.

“We are extremely cognisant of the fact healthy bodies promote healthy minds and the Active Schools Travel Program was the ideal opportunity to further strengthen this for the students at the College.

“We were very aware that not many schools in the area were involved, so we saw this as an opportunity to collaborate, lead and support other schools to see the benefits and also join the program.

Photo credit: Brisbane City Council/Facebook

Besides St John’s Anglican College, another Forest Lake school, Grand Avenue State School will commence the program once more for the three-year curriculum.

The program teaches students about the health and environmental benefits of active travel through a three-year curriculum. On average, schools see a 16 percent improvement in the number of students using active transit after completing the program.

Read: New School Bus Routes Announced for 2024

LM Adrian Schrinner said that their goal at Council was to create programs that inspire residents to improve their travel habits, which helps reduce congestion, create safer streets, and cultivate closer communities.

“Whether it is walking, cycling, scooting or anything else in between, we want to see Brisbane families ditching their cars and heading to school in a more active way,” said Cr Schrinner. 

For more information about Active School Travel, go to Council’s website or phone the contact Centre during business hours on 07 3403 8888.

Published 19-February-2024 

New Pedestrian Safety Barriers Installed Near Forest Lake Schools

Pedestrian safety barriers have been placed along Forest Lake Boulevard in front of Forest Lake State High School and St John’s Anglican College.

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This safety initiative came about at the request of the leadership teams of both schools, to ensure that the very large number of students and members of the public cease crossing to and from the shopping centre. The pedestrian safety barriers will also encourage them to use the designated safety crossings.

The community thanked the leadership teams of both schools, Forest Lake ward, and Councillor for Forest Lake Ward Charles Strunk for supporting the project. 

“Our young students need protection from unsafe road crossings and they need to remember to obey the school rules and cross at the crossing only. Traffic Light pedestrian crossings give the user the safety they need to feel they can cross the road on the crossing safety zone and get to the shopping centre and fast food outlets without having an accident,” local Stephen Dutton said.

Another resident said the safety barrier is a great idea but believes it may still be dangerous for students when it becomes crowded and waiting to cross at the lights. Still, he hopes it will help with students not darting and pushing onto the road.

In 2015, an eight-year-old student was crossing the road on his way to Grand Avenue State School when he was hit by a car. He was taken to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for face and knee injuries. Similar incidents have happened throughout Brisbane, prompting concerned locals and schools to be vigilant about safety in school zones.

Planned Aquatic Centre at St John’s Anglican College to Put Forest Lake On the Map

Following the completion of the St John’s Sports Centre in 2020, the Anglican school in  Forest Lake has announced plans to build a new $16-million world-class aquatic centre that will put the suburb on the map.

Principal Mrs Maria McIvor confirmed the approval of the concept design for the facility, which will include a 50-metre outdoor swimming pool with 10 lanes, an indoor pool for swimming lessons, a strength and conditioning gymnasium, and a grandstand with 800 seats. BSPN Architecture created the concept design. 

With Brisbane officially confirmed as the host of the 2032 Olympics, MsMcIvor envisions that St John’s Anglican College‘s upcoming aquatic centre, the first of its kind in Forest Lake, will be utilised as an Olympic training facility. The principal said that they look forward “to establishing key partnerships and programs” to support these Olympic programs, as well as the community’s needs.


  • St John’s Anglican College in Forest Lake will build a $16-million aquatic centre. 
  • The school plans to open the facility for other school’s use, swimming lessons, and for Olympic training programs.
  • The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

The centre will deliver swimming lessons for the students on campus and boost St John’s performance and interschool sports offering. However, it will also be open to other local schools and other public programs. The site will have its own community cafe. 

Photo Credit: BSPN Architecture/St John’s Anglican College
Photo Credit: BSPN Architecture/St John’s Anglican College

St John’s Anglican College restructured its sports department to boost student enrollment and the $16-million aquatic centre will complete its College Sporting Centre of Excellence.

This project has been part of the Master Plan for the senior campus, which includes the delivery of six learning areas for the next five years, including a sporting precinct with swimming facilities.

The school intends to submit the BGA application in January 2022 and conduct a consultation with the wider community. Construction for the aquatic centre is projected to start in 2024 and competed by the end of 2025.