Relocating your family – what are your schooling options?

17 January 2017 | UK/Ireland GPs | 4 minutes read

Relocating your family – what are your schooling options?

Coming to Australia with Children: Schooling Options

If you are planning to come to Australia with your family, something you will have to consider is education options for your children. There are options to suit every family, depending on whether you come to stay for a year or two, or if you are wanting to migrate permanently. The education system in Australia is separated in three different categories: Government, Independent and Independent Schools.

Government Schools

Local government primary school (grades Kindergarten/Prep – 6) in Australia are divided into catchment areas. Meaning that in most cases, your children will be eligible for a placement depending on the proximity of your home to the local school. Class sizes in government schools tend to be higher than independent schools (up to 35 students per teacher).

When it comes time to go to high school (Grades 7 -12), the number of state schools decreases but the relevant catchment areas become much larger. The reputation of state high schools can vary considerably.  Some will achieve much better results and have far better on-site facilities. The number of children attending a school increases the funding received from government.

There are several state selective high schools that have a strong academic slant and a good reputation. To gain admission to these schools, students must sit the Selective High Schools Test the year before entry. For some, entry is in Year Seven. Others have entry in Year Nine. There is a high demand for these places and exams are taken the year prior to entry, so it is often not an option for expats moving to Australia mid-way through the school year.

Students can finish their schooling in Year 10 or continue through to Year 12 at which stage they will receive a high school graduation certificate. Students wishing to continue to University must complete year 12 of high school to receive an admission score.

Some states charge an overseas student tuition fee for dependents on temporary visas.

State or Territory


Primary School
(Grades K – 6)
Junior High School
(Grades 7 -10)
Senior High School
(Grades 11-12)
Other Info
South Australia $5,100 $6,100 $6,100 10% discount for subsequent children
New South Wales $5,000 $5,000 $6,000 +$110 Admin and Education Fee
Australian Capital Territory Kindergarten
Grade 1-6
$13,900 $13,900 As GPs are on the Skilled Occupation List, dependants may be eligible for a fee exemption
Victoria No higher fee. Standard school fees apply No higher fee. Standard school fees apply No higher fee. Standard school fees apply Standard school fees are approximately
Tasmania $7,500
+ levies $300-$750
+ levies $300-$750
+ levies $300-$750
457 Visa Holders Exempt
Northern Territory $7,500 $9,000 $10,000
Western Australia $4,000 per family $4,000 per family $4,000 per family $1000 refundable bond must be paid + overseas health cover fee of $553 per year
Queensland $12,204 $13,364 $15,112 Discounts provided if students are not attending a fill year

Independent Schools

Roughly 15% of children attend private or independent schools. Many of them are single sex schools and some have boarding facilities. Many of these schools have a link with the church or an alternative teaching philosophy such as Montessori or Rudolph Steiner.

There is some prestige associated with attending private school and despite the high fees, demand for places is high, especially with those considered the ‘best’. The earlier you can apply/enrol your children, the better.

Tuition Fees at independent schools can range from $11,000 to $35,000 per year per student.

Catholic Schools

Catholic schools account two-thirds of non-government schools and the school fees are usually considerably lower than in the rest of the private sector. Although the majority of students accepted are Catholic, this are not exclusive. The costs at these schools can often be less than the levy paid by overseas residents at public schools, making it a popular option with expats. Most Catholic schools will take Catholic students as a priority and will expect you to show a baptism certificate and to live within the parish zone.

International Schools

Another option for families visiting Australia are international schools that follow the northern hemisphere school calendar.  This is a popular option among expats who aren’t certain on whether their move to Australia is going to be permanent. These schools have an International Baccalaureate learning pedagogy and can offer students a diploma that is recognised for college and university admission globally.

For more information on schooling, feel free to contact one of our specialists on 1800 604 337 or email us at

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