A new boarding facility could help bridge the educational divide between rural and metropolitan students, Macquarie Anglican Grammar School headmaster Craig Mansour said.
The school has unveiled its boarding facility Vista Lodge, where it will be taking enrolments for 2019.
Mr Mansour said there had already been interest from families from Nyngan, Cobar and Condobolin up to Narrabri and Bourke.
“There’s some outstanding schools out west but it’s the size of the cohorts that really cause issues,” Mr Mansour said of the consultation conducted in the past year.
“It’s also the opportunities for gifted and talented programs … you might be one person in a school who’s gifted and talented. In our school we have a full program in place.
“It’s also the closeness to home … a lot of families are excited about the idea of putting their young person on a bus on a Monday morning and picking them up on the Friday afternoon.”
The site on Chapmans Road features four self-catered apartments and dormitory-style rooms to accommodate about 40 students, as well as a swimming pool.
Student meals will be catered for in a dining hall, with an upstairs study room to be staffed by teachers.
Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright labelled the new facility – which will need to be serviced by supervisors, cleaners and a live-in chef – a “boon” for Dubbo.
“A lot it’s about keeping talent locally as well,” he said.
“A lot of these kids that are going off to boarding schools further afield are getting exposed to maybe a city lifestyle that we don’t necessarily want them to get too used to.
“We’d love to try to retain talent within the city and if a couple are being educated here, hopefully they’ll stay here for a lot longer.”
The school currently has Vista Lodge on a five-year lease, but will purchase the property once they are assured of the boarding operation’s long-term success.
Mr Mansour said the boarding would be “financially accessible” at about $21,000 per year (for seven-day boarding), in addition to school fees.
And he was confident their offering could also benefit rural communities.
“If they come and board here five days a week, they can go home … on the weekend,” he said. “They get a bit of training here in Dubbo … and then moving on, they’re more likely to go back to their town with a skill set [because] they’ve maintained that relationship all the way through.
“I think the opportunities are significant.”