When to Move With Your Kids to Australia?

Understanding the Australian Schooling System

If you’re planning on making the move to Australia with school-aged children, then you need to plan more diligently to ensure that your kids keep up with their all-important education. Factors like choosing an affordable suburb and the end of school terms should be considered when migrating with children. More often than not, being in the Southern hemisphere and experiencing seasons quite differently from the Northern hemisphere, the school terms in Australia will differ from your country of origin, hence it is best to plan well in advance.

School education (Primary and Secondary)

School education is similar across all of Australia with only minor variations between states and territories. School education (primary and secondary) is compulsory between the ages of six and sixteen (Year 1 to Year 9 or 10). School education is 13 years and divided into:

Primary school – Runs for seven or eight years, starting at Kindergarten/Preparatory through to Year 6 or 7.

Secondary school – Runs for three or four years, from Years 7 to 10 or 8 to 10.

Senior secondary school – Runs for two years, Years 11 and 12.

What Kind Of Schools Exist In Australia?

There are generally three different types of schools that operate in Australia.

Government or public schools – these are fully funded by the government and no school fees are charged.

Private faith (Catholic, Anglican, Jewish) schools – these are partially funded by the government and some token school fees are charged.

Private or independent schools – these are very partially funded by the government and higher school fees are charged based on the academic stature of the institution.

Children can generally start school education once they turn five, but they absolutely must be enrolled in school by the time they are six.

How Does A School Year Work Down Under?

Australia’s seasons determine the way a school year runs, so the country starts school from the last week of January (just after Australia Day on 26th January) and end midway through December. This means that kids typically enjoy about six weeks away from school during summers, but this can range between four and eight weeks based on the state you choose to live in.

An academic year is then further divided into four school terms, while two-week breaks are given between each term, so kids get up to three breaks in the year, apart from their summer holidays.

The first term is between January and April.

The second term is between end April and June.

The third term is July to September.

The fourth term is October to December.

What Kind Of Fees Do Schools In Australia Charge?

Schools in Australia have varied fee structures based on the educational institution itself. Some studies show that there is no academic edge for choosing private over public schooling.

Public schools typically offer free education for children, unless you are an overseas resident on a temporary work visa like a 457. However, in some states like South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, overseas residents don’t necessarily have to pay a higher premium.

Catholic, Anglican and Jewish schools typically charge between $2,000 and $5,000 for an academic year, while private institutions can charge up to $35,000 per year per child.

Additional costs for schooling include books, uniforms, school camps, school maintenance funds and much more. Most private and public schools have uniforms, so parents must budget for these extra factors when planning school budgets for kids.

When to Move With Your Kids?

If you’re planning your move timing, it’s probably best to consider November or early December because it gives your child the chance to start a new school year anew and from the beginning.

Even though the previous school year is ending, you will be able to schedule visits to enrol your kids for the new year before it is too late. If you end up coming to Australia when the school term ends, you will have to wait until the schools open again in January to enrol your child, which can be frustrating.

Australian schools, whether private or public, are widely regarded as high in standard, so the choice is up to you to decide where to send your child when you first come to the country.

Migrant Ninja Tip – When choosing a suburb to move into when migrating with kids, one of the primary considerations is to select accommodation within the Catchment zone of the state school.

What is a Catchment zone? – A school catchment area is a geographical location where a state school’s core intake of students must live. Catchment areas ensure every student from Prep to Year 12 is able to enrol at their local state school. Your local state school (primary or secondary) is the school which is closest to your home. Broadly speaking, this is measured by the shortest, most direct route by road—to and from the main entrance of the school. There are some state-specific variations so it is best to check the specific zoning details for the relevant state you intend to move in.  Across Australia, some state schools have earned a very good reputation whereas some others do not come highly recommended. It follows that the median price of houses and average rent in these suburbs are way higher that surrounding areas. Hence it is highly recommended that you do your research about the state school you intend to enrol your child in and look for accommodation within the catchment zone of that school to get first preference and enrolment.


Important Websites:

MY SCHOOL – The My School website is a resource for parents, educators and the community to receive information about each of Australia’s over 9,500 schools and campuses.

 Australian School Directory – The Australian Schools Directory lists all Government and Private schools in Australia. Parents can easily find the type of school they want in any location in Australia. The directory includes all Government schools (State schools) and all Private schools (Independent schools and Catholic schools). It also covers all Primary schools and Secondary schools (high schools).

Private School Guide – Search the Schools Guide for a world of information on around 3000 private schools and independent schools throughout Australia.


MIGRANT NINJA TIP – Grab the latest book by Migrant Ninja, Aussie Migrant; JobsThe Book is currently available on Amazon Kindle as a digital book and in print format in various bookstores around the world. (AmazonBooktopiaBarnes and Noble). In case you are from the Indian sub-continent, this book is also available on Amazon.in and via Flipkart.