Choosing a School in Australia – What you need to consider

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Welcome to Australia  •  Buying a House  •  Properties
Renting in Australia
  •  Choosing a School

A major reason why Britons migrate to Australia is for the lifestyle and weather, and schools ensure they cater for this with the number of sporting and outdoor activities available to their students.

The Australian educational system is regarded globally as one of the best. Schools not only educate students, they prepare them for life, developing the skills and qualities they need in today’s world.

Recently a national curriculum was implemented called the Australian Curriculum. All students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 undertake NAPLAN assessment of literacy and numeracy. But each state differs slightly on term dates, compulsory schooling ages, and differing fee structures for students who are not permanent residents or citizens.

Education tends to start at age 5-6 years old with Primary School. The first year at school is usually called Kindergarten (or Prep) and this is followed by Years 1-6. High School is Years 7-12 (12-18 year olds).

There is flexibility around the year group your child will go into when you relocate. Either the school principal or an experienced staff member will assess your child on a number of factors, rather than just their date of birth.

Starting in January and finishing in December there are four school terms a year, usually with a two week break between each term and a six week summer holiday.

There are three types of schools in Australia; government, independent (private) and Catholic schools.

Around 65% of pupils in Australia go to government schools. These schools are secular and education is free for Australian permanent residents and citizens. Parents are expected to pay a voluntary annual contribution to the school. Many states charge fees for those on temporary visas, often at the same level as International Students. In some states such as Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria there are either no fees or they are minimal.

In all other states you should expect to pay for your child’s education at the local government school. ACT is the most expensive state for temporary visa holders, where annual fees range from $10,400-15,200 per pupil whilst New South Wales annual fees range from $5,000-6,000.  This can be a hidden and unexpected cost for many who aren’t in the know.

Each state has a website that lists the fee structure and visa category that may be exempt from these fees.

Around 20% of students attend Catholic schools and these are run by Catholics but subsidised by the government. These schools are usually co-ed and a daily mass is conducted with religious studies taught. The annual fees whilst high are considerably less than private schools.

Private schools account for 15% of students and are subsidised by the government. But fees vary considerably based on location and how well regarded the school is. Some top schools charge up to $35,000 per annum for Year 12 students. Often private schools are faith schools or have strong learning philosophies and are usually single sex.

Children in Australia usually go to their local school and many schools that are popular have an enrolment scheme with a school catchment area in place. Generally if you live within the catchment then your child’s place is guaranteed, and sometimes places are awarded to pupils outside this catchment.

There are no government inspections of Australian schools but two useful websites are the Good School Guide, which lists and compares 9000 schools in Australia with search criteria such as subjects and sports offered, whilst the government website www.myschool.edu.au allows you to look at socio-educational information and NAPLAN results by school.


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