Choosing a School in Australia

Which school?

For most parents, this is a big decision at the best of times. But when you have just moved halfway across the world to a completely different country, how do you choose?

schoolAnd that’s not the only problem, here in Australia we have state schools, (which, confusingly, can also be referred to as public schools) Catholic schools and private schools. I’ll give you a link to a post with more information about that shortly, but for now, here’s what I think.

State vs Private

Many people, when they come to Australia,  feel that the best option for their child or children would be a private school. We were the same, we’d even put our name on the waiting list of a private school, even though our daughter was only 3 1/2 when we got here.

But then, once we had settled into the community, we discovered that the locals all loved the nearby state school. And when I say nearby, I mean 5 minutes walk. The private school, on the other hand, would have required a (minimum of) 45 minute round trip by car.

Oh, and we would have had to pay the fees. Again, more about those later.

Our daughter is now seven (well, as at July 2011) and she (and we) love the local state school. She comes out of there smiling everyday and looks forward to going in the morning. And when she does have to go to high school, the reputation of the one nearest to us is also really good.

So don’t feel you have to do go the private, state schools here in Australia are pretty good.

But how good?

The government set up a website where you can check the performance of all schools in Australia. I made a video about it….

To check out school performances for yourself, click on myschool.

More useful links:

I have several posts about schools….

 

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{ 193 comments… add one }
  • Tahir July 21, 2017, 11:03 pm | Link

    hi i want my son study in australia sydney he is 6 year old from out side australia please suggest any low fees school for my son and how much percent chance of cisa in age of 6 year with his mother accompany

    • BobinOz July 24, 2017, 6:59 pm | Link

      This isn’t a question I can answer, but you may get help from my expert, see my page about Student Visas.

  • Rachna Mirchandani June 9, 2017, 7:56 am | Link

    Are there Indian schools in Canberra?

    • BobinOz June 9, 2017, 9:32 pm | Link

      Canberra Hindi School
      Phone : 0423 779 820

      You’re welcome 🙂

  • Fatims Mehdi February 23, 2017, 5:24 am | Link

    Hi bob
    Thank you for your website, it helps a lot. We are thinking to move to Melbourne in couple of months. We have two boys age 12 and 14. The main purpose of moving is better education and cheaper properties. We live in Auckland.
    We are thinking about Jubilee. Any comments whether it is a good area? Is it near to the amenities? What school?
    Or please suggest any other suburbs?
    Regards
    Ali and Fatima

    • Mark February 23, 2017, 6:37 am | Link

      Hi Jubilee seems ti be a development f new houses in Wyndham Vale Not sure if its suburb in its own right but its growing or rather building fast…. The estate in question is fairly new new so you may have to wait for a year or two for the estate’s amenities like the childcare and shopping center to come up. The train station is a 5 minute drive and the Manor Lakes shopping center is near the station. There are a couple of medical centers within 5 or 6km radius and there is a childcare near the train station.
      There is a primary school from prep to 12 and an independent primary school nearby.but you will need a high school and I’ve no idea where the best one of these is but a google search should help. it will certainly involve a drive. You could also look at Manor Lakes or Lollipop Hill if you are looking for an established estate instead…otehr than thats tell us what your looking for budget, area, style etc etc or being near anywhere, we can widen the suggestions

  • LaDell February 1, 2017, 5:36 am | Link

    Hi Bob please could i ask for your adviçe on the local schools .I have four boys age 7/8/12/15 .I feel a good secondary school is important frist for my 15year old . Were moving to around the gold cost in May this year I would like to move for the school and then find somewhere to live .l feel the most important is to find a area where the boys will easy fit in and make new friendships . I will be looking for work in early years ,, schools and childrens day care .
    we would like somewhere not too busy but where my children can meet their friends in a really friendly safe suburb .with a good school .
    Any ideas would be much appreciate .We want to find a place where we will be happy for a long time .. This is a new start for us all Im free to settle in any area so my starting point is with the children’s happiness .Im only looking at state schools can’t afford four kids in private .I agree with you some state schools are as good as private plus its all so how the childern are encourage at home , A happy child will always do well .
    Kind Regards
    LaDell

    • BobinOz February 2, 2017, 12:19 am | Link

      Hi LaDell

      I’m afraid I simply don’t know the schools on Gold Coast well enough to advise, but if you watch the video above it will show you how to research the performances of schools in the area so you can pick a decent school.

      Picking one where the boys will fit in easily and make new friends is pretty much impossible, that sort of thing is all down to luck. It might also be worth asking about the schools on my page about Gold Coast, somebody with local knowledge might be able to help you out.

      What I can tell you for sure though, is our daughter was three years old when we came to Australia, she’s going to be 13 next month, she has been happy at both the schools she has been to hear, junior and senior. She absolutely loves school, always comes home with a smile on her face, so you have a chance 🙂

  • sheroo January 30, 2017, 9:18 pm | Link

    Hi Bob
    We might be moving to brisbane at the end of the year, we are staring work at the Italian Consulate, which i believe is 199 st Georges street.
    We have a son who will be 7 years old, i wanted to know which are the best primary schools around that area? i don’t think we would be living too far off from the Consulate.
    He is currently in an american school system. I honestly would prefer an IB accredited school, are there any in the area?
    Thank you so much for all your help.

    • BobinOz January 31, 2017, 6:27 pm | Link

      That’s a tough one, I simply don’t know enough about the primary schools in the area to answer you. All you can do is watch the video on this page and then research the schools in the area to compare performances.

      Keep an eye on this thread though, maybe somebody who does know the schools in the area will be able to give you some local advice. Good luck with your move, Bob

  • S Kumar January 25, 2017, 12:22 am | Link

    Hi Bob
    Your blog has wealth of info for would be immigrants coming to Oz and the replies and the discussion at the end of each blog is very useful. congratulations and well done to you!

    Could some one tell me if the kids going to country town private schools will be disadvantaged compared to their counterparts in the big cities particularly when it comes to joining the sought after degrees including medicine and dentistry.
    Apologies if this is a repetition of what has been discussed already.

    • Mark January 25, 2017, 6:24 am | Link

      Assuming we are comparing like with like eg country town private schools with near city private schools, Id say there is minimal difference but probably some, that does not mean disadvantage, just difference.. A near city school can have access to more rounded excursions eg a visits to the museum, swimming etc A country school will have more ready acces to farm based items and so on . A country school may have mixed classes even taught baccalaureate style a near city school more age specific classes, as they are private its unlikely class sizes will be much different. A near city school will have more access to choice of staff, a country one more limited but that doesn’t mean the teacher is better

      • Suresh January 26, 2017, 10:30 am | Link

        Hi Mark
        Thanks very much for your reply

  • Steve January 14, 2017, 3:16 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    My wife and I have decided we can’t handle the cold weather of England any longer! I am an Aussie Citizen as are my 3 kids! My wife and I are looking to move to the Brisbane area, our 3 kids are in secondary school here and we were wondering what high schools you (or Mrs Bob) can recommend we look at? Still got to apply for a visa for my wife and convince my 2 daughters it would be a great idea to move! So could be a year or so off still!
    Cheers,
    Steve

    • BobinOz January 14, 2017, 9:11 pm | Link

      Can’t say I blame you, and if it’s good weather you are after, then Brisbane is a great choice. Kenmore State School has a very good reputation here, but we also have some very good private schools if you want to pay for their education.

      You can research school performances from my page called Which school? I have a video to show you how to do it. Good luck, Bob

    • Anna March 22, 2017, 5:15 pm | Link

      Hi in Brisbane I would highly recommend kelvin grove state school. It is excellent. We were very sad to have to leave it and move to Melbourne for work. It really is great, don’t be put off by the large size it doesn’t feel that big when you are there as it is incredibly well organised and structured.

      • BobinOz March 23, 2017, 8:15 pm | Link

        That’s good to know Anna, thanks for the recommendation. My knowledge of Brisbane schools and what they are really like is very limited, I can only speak of the schools I have had experience with. So it’s great to have you take the time to chip in with your view as well.

  • mercy January 8, 2017, 5:23 pm | Link

    Hi bob,im a student in nairobi kenya .I would like to come and continue my education there so as living but i have no idea where i should start .id like to know one of the best places to live in australia.id like to be a pilot so id like a place where a school that offers aviation is available.

    • BobinOz January 11, 2017, 9:14 pm | Link

      There is no ‘best places’ in Australia to live, but you can read a roundup of some of our major cities on my page A Quick Guide to Choosing a City in Australia which you may find useful.

      I have no idea where our aviation schools are, I think you might need to Google that first to narrow down your search.

  • kevin January 4, 2017, 1:37 am | Link

    me and my family are looking at moving to Australia initially on a subclass 601 visa, then once we are there changing over to a 457 sponsorship visa. can our two kids attend school as soon as we get there on the 601 visa?

    • BobinOz January 4, 2017, 4:40 pm | Link

      I believe that is some kind of temporary business visa? I don’t know what the full terms and conditions are on that one, you would need to check with the immigration department to find out what you are allowed and are not allowed to do on that visa.

      The information is readily available online, to find out how to access it you can watch a video on my page about Visas.

  • john December 5, 2016, 11:00 pm | Link

    hi bob
    I am planning to move to Australia in march and cannot decide on which state
    I have worked in various roles in the banking and finance field
    I am thinking of either Brisbane or Sydney
    first would be Brisbane and then Sydney
    I am worked about my job prospects….it is easy to find jobs for 45 to 50 K PA
    thanks
    john

    • BobinOz December 6, 2016, 10:23 pm | Link

      Brisbane, just so that you know, is significantly cheaper to live in than Sydney. Sydney though would probably have more job opportunities for banking and finance. It’s not easy getting a job here at the moment, in fact it’s really quite hard, especially for someone newly arriving in this country.

      You can search for job opportunities on my page called Getting a Job or a Sponsorship and I think it would be worth you reading the following post…

      http://www.bobinoz.com/blog/17033/whats-it-really-like-trying-to-find-a-job-in-australia-2015/

      And in particular the comments just to see how difficult it is these days to land a job here. Good luck, Bob

  • Yinkz November 25, 2016, 12:12 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Your website is not only helpful but very informative.
    My family is relocating to Australia from Nigeria in the summer of 2017 and a friend recommended Perth. I am a lawyer and so is my wife. We have three kids (10, 6 and 3). Reading all the comments is really amazing. However what are the job prospects for my wife and i in Perth as lawyers and schools for my kids being immigrants? looking forward to your reply.
    Best regards

    Yinkz

    • BobinOz November 25, 2016, 9:40 pm | Link

      Thank you, glad to hear my website has been helpful. You are both lawyers? Gosh, I’d hate to be in your house when you are having an argument 🙂

      I’m afraid the job market here is not so good at the moment, and Perth is probably struggling more than most of our other cities. Have a read of this post and in particular the comments…

      http://www.bobinoz.com/blog/17033/whats-it-really-like-trying-to-find-a-job-in-australia-2015/

      It’s even harder for new migrants arriving here to secure work because many employers prefer people with what they call ‘local experience’. That means having already worked here in Australia.

      So there will be no guarantees you will get a job, having said that I don’t know what the market is like for lawyers. You can research current opportunities on my page called Getting a Job or a Sponsorship.

      Schools are more than used to accepting new immigrants, so that should not be a problem, just use the information on this page to select a suitable school.

      Hope that helps, and good luck, Bob

  • Emily November 15, 2016, 2:15 pm | Link

    I have a son with autism who will be starting school next year. What kind of services do schools in Australia have for children with special needs?

    • BobinOz November 15, 2016, 8:42 pm | Link

      I wish I could help Emily, but I’m afraid I just don’t know enough about this subject to give you a meaningful answer. All I can tell you is that I can remember seeing some not so good headlines about Australia failing those with special needs when it comes to education.

      As I have no experience with this, I couldn’t tell you whether this kind of talk is justified or not. I can understand your concern though, so it may be best if you try and search for some kind of Australian autism forum or website so you can look into this further.

      Other than that, maybe someone who does know about this will see your question here and let you know what they think. Good luck though, Bob

  • frank wia October 9, 2016, 9:22 pm | Link

    I am looking for a private school in Brisbane (sun shine coast) and I have two boys they will be attending it next year. Day students

    • BobinOz October 10, 2016, 5:50 pm | Link

      Brisbane and Sunshine Coast are two different places and without knowing the ages of your boys it’s impossible for anybody to help you with this. Your best bet is to watch the video and follow the advice to help you research schools in the area you’re looking at.

  • Louise O'Brien September 13, 2016, 2:55 pm | Link

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkiS212C6aA School EasyPay is a cost efficient and secure way for schools to collect tuition and other fees and is also preferred by parents.

    • BobinOz September 13, 2016, 11:32 pm | Link

      I watched your video, looks like a good idea to me, but how do you earn your money? Do you take a cut out of the schools or the parents paying the fees? I think that something that anybody considering using this system would need to know.

  • Sophia August 31, 2016, 12:23 am | Link

    Hi Bob ,
    We are planning to immigrate to Melbourne by December.
    Luckily I got through your site as I am confused regarding schooling for my 7 year old son.
    He is in class 2 nd here which grade will he be admitted in Australia and my second query was that I was preferring Catholic school .
    Will it be a right choice other than state schools.
    Many thanks for the efforts you are taking.

    • BobinOz August 31, 2016, 4:50 pm | Link

      I’m glad you found my website as well. Yes, we have some very good Catholic schools, but again, it always pays to check how each school you are considering is performing by using the above described website. Catholic schools are not free, so you will have to pay school fees and they vary massively from school to school.

      As for what grade your child will go into, check my link above towards the bottom of that list of ‘More useful links’ called Find out At What Age Do Children Start School in Australia? It depends on when your son’s birthday is, you can work out when he would have started school and then work through the grades to see which one he will belong in when you arrive. Good luck, Bob

  • ThyFere August 4, 2016, 6:25 pm | Link

    Hi,

    Great article! I settled my family in Melbourne 3 years ago, but I kept working in the Middle East. Now, finally, I am also moving to Australia. Currently, my son is going to local Public, and as you have also mentioned, he looks happy every day, he has never complained.

    Now, I don’t know where I will get the job. Right now, Epping Views Primary school may be not in any impressive list but they are doing good and satisfying their kids very well.

    Now, wherever we go, we will have to choose any secondary school. So, do you believe that some suburbs really have better schools than others that can make my son better human being and contributor to the society? If yes, which are those suburbs?

    • BobinOz August 4, 2016, 8:55 pm | Link

      Glad to hear your family have settled well in Melbourne, I hope you do too when you arrive. As for schools, personally I believe a smart kid will do well in any school. But I also believe that some schools are better than others, and that’s going to be true in secondary schools for sure.

      As luck would have it, it certainly wasn’t by design, it turns out that I live in a suburb that is in the catchment area of the very good state secondary school. We had considered sending our daughter to a private school, but after looking into it thoroughly we couldn’t see the advantage, none of them performed significantly better than this highly regarded state school.

      In fact I spoke to a state school teacher some years ago who actually moved into this catchment area just so that their child, who was getting to secondary school age, could go to this school.

      So better schools are about, but I don’t know enough about the schools where you live to know which ones they are. It’s worth researching it though, and the video above along with the article explains how you can do that. It’s also worth asking people where you live, can’t beat a bit of local knowledge. Good luck, Bob

  • Rsjshekar July 5, 2016, 7:54 am | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I am moving into gold coast, Queensland, this oct 2016, I have a daughter who is 13. & a son who will turn 8 in Aug 2016, when should I enrol them into school?

    How about schools in gold coast, Queensland? Would my children suffer any sort of bullying?

    • BobinOz July 6, 2016, 12:44 am | Link

      As soon as you know which schools you want to send your children to you should get in touch directly with them and ask them how to proceed. I’m sure they will be very helpful.

      I couldn’t tell you whether your children would be bullied at school or not, but again, this is something you can discuss directly with those schools if you have any concerns about it. Good luck, Bob

    • Ritu September 18, 2016, 7:03 pm | Link

      Hi!
      Gold coast is a wonderful place. The school year starts in January here so, depending on where you are moving from it’s probably going to be a tricky one. The schools would let you know after assessing the kids.
      There are many options for both public and private schooling there. Have you decided on an area to live in? If you have some schools you are considering I could put in my 2 cents 🙂

      good luck!

  • Nisha June 29, 2016, 3:00 am | Link

    Well I am a 17 girl in Botswana I want to study in Sydney university next year can u please check for me what’s required of me to make it into the school for MBBS

    • BobinOz June 29, 2016, 10:15 pm | Link

      Well, I have no idea what’s required, but my student expert knows all about this kind of thing. Check out my page about Student Visas.

  • Camila June 26, 2016, 11:21 am | Link

    Hello Bob,

    Thanks for your post, it is really helpful 😉 . I am moving to Austrália in 6 months and I have a 3-years-old girl that does not speak english (yet). Our destiny is Western Austrália and I have heard that the bullying level is raised in public schools rather than private ones. I am very concerned as my daughter is not familiar with the language and she will have to enrol a pre-school or day care (I’m impressed with the high fees). My question is do you have any opinion on what type of school would be better for her taking into consideration her language barrier?!!!

    Kindest Regards

    • BobinOz June 26, 2016, 11:13 pm | Link

      Check out the following post…

      http://www.bobinoz.com/blog/17675/where-do-the-happiest-people-in-australia-live/

      There is a section on schools, it gives some statistics about bullying that you may find helpful. Personally, I think bullying starts a bit later in life and by that time your daughter will be speaking perfect English. So I don’t think the language barrier will be much of a problem.

      I can’t specifically help you with schools in Western Australia, I simply have no idea living here in Brisbane. Hopefully somebody else who knows that area well will be able to help you out. Good luck, Bob

  • Ernesto Isaaccura June 14, 2016, 4:12 am | Link

    Hi Bob, how are you doing?

    Congratulations on your blog and thank you, it has been very helpful.

    Me and some members of my family are moving to Australia next September, my sister has a kid in school age and we are trying to enrol him at school, thing is that we do not have a residential address in Australia yet, but when you are filling the form it is an obligatory field, how could we have an address yet if we haven’t even arrived or gotten a visa? Is there a way around this problem you are aware of? Any kind of help would be much appreciated…

    Thank you in advance and sorry for the poor English!

    Have a nice day!

    • Ernesto Isaaccura June 14, 2016, 4:47 am | Link

      I forgot to mention we are all coming on a student visa (572), therefore it is demanded to attach the confirmation that states that you have enrolled your kids in school in order to submit your visa application. But first you need an address… So ist is a vicious circle, as you can see.. Hope you can help!

      • BobinOz June 14, 2016, 6:58 pm | Link

        If you know which catchment area you are going to move to, and therefore which school you want the child to go to, then I would speak directly to that school about how to handle it.

        I’m sure they would probably accept a ‘to be arranged’ for the address in view of the circumstances, but I think they will need confirmation that you will be living in the catchment area.

        Hope that helps, Bob

        • Ernesto Isaaccura June 14, 2016, 9:45 pm | Link

          Yes, thing is that school enrolment for overseas students dependants is arranged through the Victoria education website, not particularly with each school, therefore I can not go any further, because I am stuck one step behind the “direct – contact – step” if you know what I mean (protocol wise)… However I will still try to get help from the schools I chose… Thank you very much for your time and quick response!

          Good luck!

          • BobinOz June 15, 2016, 8:40 pm | Link

            Well, I am sure there will be an easy solution to this, you won’t be the first person looking to place your child into a school without a permanent Australian address.

            The education department in Victoria will have come across this before, so just explain the situation to them and I’m sure they will help you out. Good luck, Bob

  • Jennifer David Wau May 24, 2016, 3:31 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Can you please distinguish between State, Catholic and Public Schools in Australia and what are the requirements?

    Thanks.
    Jennifer

    • BobinOz May 24, 2016, 5:49 pm | Link

      Yes, I already have. Please click on the second link under the more useful links header to read my article about state and private schools, which also covers Catholic schools.

      Many thanks, Bob

  • Raghuram R April 30, 2016, 11:54 pm | Link

    Hi
    I am in a similar situation but moving to Adelaide. I have had some very encouraging responses from schools in Adelaide. They will enroll in the middle of the year. I don’t think your child will have to wait for the next academic year to start. I would encourage you to write to the schools that you have shortlisted. you can also visit http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/parents/primary/Pages/enrol.aspx
    for further details on primary schools, their websites, contact details and email ids
    I am going through a similar phase worrying about kids schooling (my son is in grade 10), just thought I’d help out with whatever I know.
    Raghu

    • Raghav July 7, 2016, 3:17 am | Link

      Hi Bob, To begin with, you are doing a thankless job of listening out and providing guidance. Thanks for the same. Having said, I plan to move to Melbourne on 190 visa but wanted to ask if my child, who is 12 and half years old and in 7th grade now, can join 8 th grade in May 2017? Kids in India complete a grade by end of March and hence the question. Besides this, should I be concerned about the bullying aspect as I have seen a mention of the same in other blogs.

      • BobinOz July 8, 2016, 5:20 pm | Link

        That would be something you would need to discuss with the school you intend to send your daughter to, they will be able to help you directly with both the grade and your concerns about bullying.

        Cheers, Bob

    • Tarun January 4, 2017, 5:42 pm | Link

      Hi,
      We are moving to Adelaide from India in April. My daughter is currently in grade 10th and we will move after she gives her grade 10th exam here. I hear the session in Adelaide starts in Feb. Would it be difficult to get admission in April in grade 11th ? We are looking at a public school.

      • BobinOz January 5, 2017, 8:05 pm | Link

        My understanding is that each state has an obligation to provide a place for children to be educated, so they have to find a place for your daughter. I believe the only restriction is that you will will have to accept a place offered to you that is within the catchment area of where you will be living.

        So no, it should not be difficult at all. Good luck with your move, Bob

    • szd March 16, 2017, 7:05 pm | Link

      Hi- could i please get your email id, would like to correspond privately on schooling in adelaide.

  • Radha April 30, 2016, 2:03 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    We would be moving to Melbourne in july 2016. I understand from other sites that the term starts on 11th july 2016. My daughter is 6 years old and would be turning 7 in Aug’16. Can I enrol her in term 2? And will they accept her into school in the middle of the year, that is 3rd term? Or would she have to wait till 2017 January to start school. Please advise. Looking for answers.

    Thanks,
    Radha

    • Gloria May 2, 2016, 4:43 pm | Link

      I have enquired with both public and Catholic schools and they all accept mid-term enrollment, however you would have to submit paperwork preferably 3 months in advance. And you would also have to pay full fees from what I understand, depending on what visa you enter on.

      Hope that helps!

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