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  • You will find three types of schools in Australia: Government, Catholic and Independent Schools. Below find further information on the different types of school.
  • Children can start kindergarten in Tasmania if they turn 4 years of age by January 1st in the year they enrol. Most schools run a 15 hour a week kinder program. Children can start school (Prep) in Tasmania if they turn 5 years of age by January 1st in the year they enrol. Children must be enrolled, by law, by the time they turn 5 years of age. See
  • The school year starts early February and finishes mid December. There are  four terms with three breaks of two to three  weeks and a longer break over December and January of  around six to eight weeks. Private schools often have shorter terms and longer holidays. The school day usually starts sometime between 8.30-9am and finishes between 3-3.30pm Monday to Friday. Private schools may have compulsory sport on a Saturday.
  • It is the final decision of the head teacher whether a child should be accelerated to a higher class based on academic achievement.
  • Overseas residents in some states pay more than locals in school fees.  Tasmania fees are up to $14,000 per year (but 457 and 574 visa holders are exempt)
  • Students who are  on a short stay bridging visa may be required to pay higher school fees. Get further information from the individual state and territories education department (listed below).
  • Private school fees vary from around $2000 (for some Catholic or Christian  primary schools) up to $35,000 ( some independent private schools). Students who do not hold and Australian passport and whose parents or carers are not resident in Australia can also be charged additional fees on top of those Australian passport holders pay for private school fees. University fees, for international non residents, must be paid fully each term.
  • Additional schooling costs include: uniforms, books, school camps and excursions, contributions to the building fund (private schools) and general fundraising efforts .
  • Most schools do not provide free lunches. Students take their own lunch to school as well as a snack for morning break. Many schools also have canteen facilities staffed byvoluntary parents from the school.
  • Most schools have  uniforms. Independent schools usually have a very strict uniform code and the initial cost for this can be high (around $800 +). Most schools have a second hand department which is a cost effective way of purchasing items or as a 2nd/3rd set of uniform. The uniform costs for state schools are less and they, too, have second hand departments. In Australia to buy uniform at the school’s second hand shop is considered supportive of the school.
  • Sport is important in school life in Australia with an emphasis on competitive sport. In Primary school, students are involved in sport at least one day a week. In high school, sport might also be played on Saturday mornings as well as after school during the week. Many of the private boys’ schools make sport compulsory. Whilst not always compulsory for girls it is actively encouraged. Sports, from rowing, to cricket to water polo to rugby and everything in between is played in Australia so there is usually something to suit everyone. As well as school sports, many children join their local sporting club (soccer, rugby, AFL etc) finding an affordable way to become part of your sporting community.   Beach culture is important to Australia, so most parents enrol their children in swimming lessons from an early age and many schools run learn to swim programs.
  •  There are strong Anti Bullying policies in schools. Support systems are in place to assist parents and students who are being bullied.
  • A National Curriculum is on the way but currently education in Australia is administered by the individual state.
  • The school system consists of Primary School-Kindergarten –Year 6 and High School- Year 7-Year12. Children must attend school until Year 10 at which stage they receive a junior high school certificate – not a full high school certificate.  At this stage students either stay on in Tear 11 and 12 for Senior Secondary to complete their full school certificate known as Tasmanian Cetificate of Education*,or train as an apprentice in a trade, other vocational training or join the work force.
  • The National Education authority is the Department of Education, Skills and Employement  – see
  • For Information to compare Australian and overseas qualifications please go to :
  • Home schooling is a legal option in Australia and the parent takes full responsibility for educating their child at home, based on the curriculum. See
  • LOTE means Languages Other than English. Children in primary and secondary schools are usually taught languages. This varies between schools with European and Asian languages being popular. In Secondary school (high school) children can choose alternate or additional languages.
  • Multiculturalism is embraced in the Australia and specialist English as a second language (ESL) teachers are there to support children with language difficulties. Most states have Introductory English Centres (IEC) for children with little or no English language skills.

Types of Schools


Government Schools (also known as Public/State Schools)

Local Primary Schools

There are great primary schools in Australia and in most cases you are eligible for a place  as long as you live within the school’s catchment area. Good suburbs tend to have good local schools, so often housing is chosen based on school zoning. Class sizes can be up to 35 students to one teacher but most parents are happy with the quality of schooling for these early years. Annual school costs for Australian residents are very low, about $500 per year but there is also school fundraising. Some overseas residents do pay tuition fees. (see below – Costs)Temporary residents (on a subclass 457 visa) pay more although not all states and territories enforce it. Permanent residents have same rights as citizens and  pay a small contribution (a few hundred dollars a year in average).

Local State High Schools

 When it is time to go to high school (Year 7 – age 12+), the number of state schools decreases but the relevant catchment areas are larger. The reputation of state high schools can vary. Some schools achieve much better results and also have far better on site facilities. The number of children attending a school influences  the funding allowance.  Students can finish their schooling in Year 10 or continue to year 12 at which stage they will receive a high school graduation certificate.

*This certificate is known as a High School Certificate (HSC) in NSW, a Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in Victoria, a High School Certificate in ACT, an NT Certificate of Education in the Northern Territory, a Queensland Certificate of education (QCE) in Queensland, a South Australia Certificate of Education in SA. the Tasmanian Certificate of Education, or TCE in Tasmania and the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) in Western Australia.


Public/State School in Australia– What will it cost me?

Overseas residents in some states pay a higher premium of school fees in Australia.

For NSW are expect to pay approx $16,600 per year

Tasmania up to $14,000 per year (but 457 and 574 visa holders are exempt)

NT - approx $12,000 per year (but holders of many skilled migration visas are exempt).

Western Australia  $4,000 per family each year, regardless of the number of children a family have enrolled in public schools.

Victoria, Queensland, South Australia  - $18,163; $16,522; $14,200

Western Australia since January 2015  $4,000 per family each year, regardless of the number of children a family have enrolled in public schools.

Students who areon a short stay bridging visa may well be required to pay higher school fees.


Department of Education for each State and Territory:









Independent Schools

Many independent schools are single sex schools and some have boarding facilities. Many of these schools  link with the church or an alternative teaching philosophy such as Montessori or Rudolph Steiner. A few Independent schools  offer the IB (International Baccalaureate) which is also popular option with expatriates due to its portability. While there is some prestige associated with attending Private school  for many the high fee structure prevents this being an option. Despite the high fees, demand for private school places is high, especially with those considered the ‘best’ schools where many parents enrol their children at birth. The earlier you can enrol your children the better.


Catholic Schools

Catholic schools account for  two thirds of non-government schools. School fees are usually considerably lower than in the rest of the private sector. The majority of students accepted are Catholic but  the schools are not exclusive: students should expect a strong religious ethos.  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.

For information of Universities and Tafe (further education) see relevant sections.


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