Mrs Abrahams said the headmaster’s contract of employment includes the council’s expectations that he travel internationally with his wife. It was also longstanding practice to fly business class, given the trips often involved being on duty without time to recover from the flight.
“These arrangements are entirely consistent with those of other independent schools that we are usually compared to,” Mrs Abrahams said.
King’s headmasters have travelled to the United Kingdom for many decades to “develop, sustain, and enhance relationships with these like-minded schools to enrich the opportunities available to the staff and students of King’s,” an essential activity interrupted by the pandemic, Mrs Abrahams said.
“It would be strange indeed if the success of our boys in competing at Henley and the opportunity to re-engage with key strategic alliance schools that can advance our strategic plan were not supported by arranging for our Headmaster and the Head of Senior School to attend the event to show their support and encouragement to the boys and their families and to meet with their colleagues in the HMC.”
The schools operating budget included an allowance for travel by the headmaster and other members of the school executive, Mrs Abrahams said. Original plans for the headmaster to travel to attend a conference in the United States were altered when the rowing crew qualified for the regatta, for the third time in the school’s history.
“Being at Henley to support the crew’s assault on the Princess Elizabeth Cup and to meet with schools that can help advance our strategic initiatives is more important,” Mrs Abrahams said. The travel was arranged according to the protocols of the school council and the school.
When the Herald initially approached King’s, the school did not comment on suggestions the trip was worth $45,000, including accommodation. Mrs Abrahams told the school community on Tuesday that cost was “grossly exaggerated. All airfares were obtained on a best-price basis for business class travel. The cost of the tickets purchased was less than the cost to travel in the approved class for such business travel.”
Mrs Abrahams said she was “saddened that an article in the tabloid press would give any member of our community cause to think that something inappropriate or, worse, unethical is happening at King’s.
“It is especially disappointing that this issue is distracting us from the real story – the success of our boys and our encouragement of their efforts at Henley.”
The most recent figures show that for 2020 King’s School and its primary school campus Tudor House in Mossvale received more than $21 million in recurrent funding from state and Commonwealth governments.
The school received just over $58 million in fees, charges and parent contributions for that year.
The Education Act says government funding must be used for educational objectives and the operation of the school.
King’s, in North Parramatta, was established 191 years ago. Its fees range from $24,000 for a pre-school year to $40,000 for year 12 and $69,000 for tuition and boarding in the senior school.