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Hooray! Your little one is finally off to big school! This is the start of an exciting journey which will eventually guide your child to their desired career path.

What School Do I Choose?

The Queensland Department of Education www.education.qld.gov.au, suggests considering the following to help decide which school is best for your child:

  • “What are your child’s needs and interests? Will the school be able to cater for them?
  • Is the school reasonably close to home, work and carers?
  • What facilities does the school offer? Are you comfortable with the feel of it?
  • What are the school policies on homework, discipline and safety?
  • Are other services available such as after school care?”

Public, Private, or Catholic?

There are many, many schools to choose from, including public, private and Catholic schools. Here’s a brief run down to help you decide.

Public – The main two factors about public schools are that they are managed by the Australian Government education system and therefore offer lower tuition fees. The enrolment process is fairly simple and straightforward, and many accept enrolments based on catchment areas (ie. if you reside in a school’s catchment area, they will generally accept you).

Private / Independent school – While private schools have higher tuition fees, they generally offer more excursions, smaller class sizes, and a larger variety of school facilities, including boarding for some schools. Admission into a private school generally isn’t as straightforward as entering a public school, with many requiring students and parents to come in for an enrolment interview.

Catholic – Catholic education is faith-based, community-minded and an integral part of the Catholic Church. These schools receive partial government funding, meaning their fees can be lower than those of private schools. Many parents believe that like private schools, Catholic schools have more to offer to their children in terms of facilities, opportunities, and even boarding facilities. A child does not need to be baptised or have Catholic faith in order to enrol at a Catholic school but will be required to participate in Catholic school activities including mass and prayer.

When Should We Start Thinking About School?

Realistically, it’s never too early to start researching your child’s education. Even if your child is still a toddler, you can call around different schools to enquire about their enrolment process. Some schools accept applications years in advance, and if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to put your child on the school’s waiting list to increase your chances of securing a spot if you are looking into enrolling at a private or Catholic school.

When thinking about your child’s education, ask yourself what you value the most in a learning environment. Do you want a school that offers a range of facilities, perhaps including a swimming pool or boarding facilities? Are you looking for a large and diverse school, or a smaller and more private school? Would you like your child to attend a school where religious education is a must? Asking yourself these questions will help you narrow down the schools in your region, and therefore bringing you a step closer towards making a decision.

Where Do We Start?

Public school – If you’re looking at a specific public school, it’s worth checking whether you reside in the school’s catchment area, as some schools will only accept students who reside within their district. You can find an interactive catchment area map at www.qgso.qld.gov.au/maps/edmap

From here, you can contact the school of interest or visit their website to enquire about the school’s enrolment process. Usually this involves filling out an application form, returning this to the school’s administration office, and attending an interview with the school’s principal or enrolment officer.

Private / Independent school – Many private schools are in high demand and some have lengthy waiting list in place. These lists generally operate on a “first come, first served” basis, but your child is not always guaranteed enrolment by being on the school’s waiting list. Having said that, getting in earlier rather than later is always recommended.

Be prepared to pay a waiting list fee and for your child to possibly sit a test, should they be invited for an interview at the school.

Catholic school – If you’re interested in enrolling your child at a Catholic school, you should contact the school directly to enquire about their enrolment process. You can also head to the school’s or the Catholic Education website for more information. Alternatively, contact your local Catholic Education office to enquire about Catholic schools in your area, as unlike public schools, they do not have catchment areas.