7 tips for choosing the right school

Deciding on a school could be as simple as geography, but sometimes other factors 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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 pre-school through to high school) is estimated to be around1:

  • $68,596 if they attend government schools
  • $241,701 if they attend systemic/catholic schools
  • $493,369 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, stationary and additional activities.

While there’s a significant variation in cost, expensive schools don’t necessarily guarantee a greater experience or better results.

Our cost of education calculator can help you crunch the numbers and our online learning module could help you work toward a savings goal.

5. Government subsidies

Depending on what state you live in, you may be eligible for financial benefits to help with things such as transport, textbooks and other education-related expenses.

If you have a school-aged child who can’t go to a state school because they live in an isolated area, board away from home, have a disability or special need, you may also qualify for tax-free payments.

6. 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.

7. 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.

We’re here to help

If you’d like help working out how much you’ll need to save for education and other expenses, try our budget planner or talk to your financial adviser. If you need help finding an adviser, call us on 131 267 or use our find an adviser tool.

In the meantime, remember you’re choosing a school for your child, not for yourself, so keep their interests, needs and future goals in mind.

1 https://www.asg.com.au/
 

Cost of education calculator

The cost of educating your children could be one of the bigger investments you’ll make in life. Get an estimate of what your children’s education may cost you. 

Calculate now

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.