Deciding on a school could be as simple as geography but sometimes other factors, like your finances, play a part in the selection process.
If you’re thinking about what school to enrol your children into, it might be a more complicated decision than merely opting for something in the local area.
Family values, student facilities, extra-curricular activities and your financial situation could all come into play. We look at some of the things to consider and what you can expect to pay.
Choosing a school close by
Attending a school close to home can have its advantages—your kids’ classmates will often live nearby and as a result, also be involved in the same sports or extra-curricular activities. Time and money can also be saved on commuting when school is a short stroll, lift or bus trip away.
Family values and personal preferences
You may want to think about whether a school’s culture, philosophy, religious affiliations or emphasis on academia, arts or sporting achievements align with your own family ideals. It’s also worth considering whether you have preferences around things like class sizes, assessment techniques, disciplinary policies, single-sex or co-ed environments, and teacher/parent communication.
Facilities, support and additional programs
Other things that may be important to you and your family might involve the amenities and services on offer, such as:
- Library, computer room, science lab
- Facilities for sport, music and art
- Playgrounds and cafeterias
- Counselling services and first aid
- Before and after-school care
- Extra-curricular activities and programs
- Language, literacy and numeracy tutoring
- Financial support or incentives, including scholarships.
What you can expect to fork out
According to figures from ASG, for a child born today, the total cost of schooling in a capital city (from ages 0 to 17) is estimated to be around1:
- $68,007 if they attend government schools
- $252,085 if they attend systemic/catholic schools
- $499,593 if they attend private schools.
For many families, money will play a part in the decision-making process, which is why it’s a good idea to start planning for your children’s education early on—think school fees, uniforms, travel, stationery and additional activities. While there’s a significant variation in cost, expensive schools don’t necessarily guarantee a greater experience or better results.
Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for financial benefits to help with things such as transport, textbooks, extra-curricular activities and other education-related expenses. Check out our article for a bit of a rundown on what’s available in different Australian states and territories - Are you eligible for school subsidies?
Waiting lists and entry requirements
Some schools have waiting lists and entry requirements which may depend on academic or sporting achievements, or whether you’re located in the school’s district. It’s worth researching these things early on because while you may think you have plenty of time to decide, realistically you may not, with some schools advising to enrol your kids immediately after birth.
Ways to narrow down your shortlist
If you’ve narrowed down your shortlist, but are still undecided, a bit of extra research could help. You can check out performance data online via My School, which includes recent NAPLAN results. Numbers aren’t everything though, so look to other sources of information to gauge school attitudes and strengths, such as the school website, annual reports, open days, information nights and associated online networks. Talking to staff, the principal, other students’ parents and the wider community could also go a long way.
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