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Choosing a School

This section is built to assist school seekers in choosing the right school  and to acquiant you with the Australian schooling system.

Location Map l Postcodes l Latest News (RSS) l School Sectors l School Types l Special Needs l Boarding Schools l Fees and Costs l Getting More l Beyond School l Additional Information

First and foremost you should understand that the word "school" is a very broad term used in Australia. A school may include any form of academic course covering all ages and crossing mulitple education sectors.

This section of wheretoschool.com.au will assist school seekers find the right school for:

  1. Yourself (Uni Student, Apprentice, Adult Education)
  2. Your child (Toddler, School Goer, Student)

Your choice of school may include:

  1. Day Care (0 - 5 year olds)
  2. Early Childhood (Prep to Kindy)
  3. Primary (Kindergarten to Year 6 or 7)
  4. Secondary (Year 6 or 7 to 12)
  5. Tertiary (Australian Universities, TAFE, and other Tertiary Institutes)
  6. Private Tuition (Courses run and operated by approved private education providers)

It is important to understand the Australian Schooling System first before selecting an appropriate school. Remember that education is one of your most significant and costly investments. You should utilise wheretoschool.com.au to search, research, compare and make enquiries to the institutions that suite your:

  1. Education requirements and goals
  2. Location and living requirements
  3. Budget
  4. Desired Outcomes

Conveniently wheretoschool.com.au lists all Australian schools covering all locations and all sectors. These sectors include and are not limited to:

  1. Government
  2. Non-Government/Independent
  3. Catholic


Canberra-ACT | New South Wales | Northern Territory | Queensland
South Australia | Tasmania | Victoria | Western Australia
Map Courtesy of Wilmap (Australia) Pty Ltd

Finding and Understanding Postcodes (assisting you with a postcode search) top

Australia Post offer the following facility to assist customers in finding post codes throuoghout Australia. Please select the following link to assist you in finding a postcode in a suburb or surrounding area:

Use this link to assist you with a wheretoschool.com.au postcode search

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Schools in Australia belong to one of three sectors: Government, Independent and Catholic. The following table outlines the fundamental differences between each sector.
Government /Public

Government schools make up around two-thirds of Australian Schools. Government schools throughout Australia aim to provide high quality, democratic education for everyone in Australia irrespective of their background, religion, or place of residence. The government sector is diversifying and seen to be highly innovative especially toward the HSC (High School Certificate). In country regions, primary and secondary schools are combined. Secondary schools have increased their range of subject choice and cater for vocational education and training.


Independent or Private Schools do not belong to any one system. These schools are generally run a governing body who dictate school fees, employment, and a number of other related functions. Many independent schools are religious specific and prefer their students and parents to share and engage in the same religious views and practices. Some of the schools do not however have a strict policy on religion however may, owing to tradition be associated to a particular faith.

Some of Australia most high recognised schools are large, long-established, traditional, religious foundations. These are generally up-market, highly sort after, and expensive schools.

All independent schools receive some government funding depending on factors such local clientele and the social economics of the locality.

Catholic Catholic Schools work hard to provide a Catholic education predominately to co-educational schools spread evenly across each state. These schools are generally subsidised by the Government and fees are lower. Most Catholic schools belong to a system or diocese. Catholic Schools that are government subsidised are referred to as systemic.

There are a number of independent Catholic schools often single-sex (male or female). Independent Catholic Schools are usually managed by established religious orders and vary in fee range from low to upper high range.

Catholic schools both systemic and independent aim to provide Catholic oriented religious values with a majority of their students Catholic. This is not a requirement in catholic schools.

Each school sector has a number of school structures that can affect a school seekers choice.

1.      Year or Grade Levels

Australia’s state and territories are slightly different. The most common secondary school structure is the aptly named “stand-alone 7-12” which takes in students at year 7 and continues through to year 12 and the HSC (High School Certificate). This “traditional” structure is changing and it is not uncommon to find schools that cater for students from K (Kindergarten) to Year 12. Country schools normally combine primary and secondary but may stop at year 10. Students may then go off to complete years 11 and 12 at a senior college or vocational institution. Senior colleges are able to offer a broad range of curriculum choices. This structure allows students to choose specific subjects that they are interested in. While searching wheretoschool.com.au it is important to select the Year level the student is entering to accurately return institutions that cater for that year.

2.      Gender

All sectors have single-sex (male or female only) schools. The majority of schools Australia-wide are co-ed. Most single-sex schools owe their existence to tradition rather than to modern educational thought.

3.      Streamed and Mixed Ability

In Australia streaming is widely practiced particularly in secondary school. Essentially, streaming places “bright” students in one class, “slower learners” in another class, and the “in-betweens” in between. Schools that do not stream describe their classes “mixed” ability and cater for a range of intellectual abilities in each class.

4.      Comprehensive versus Selective

Mainly applicable to government/public schools, most secondary schools in Australia are comprehensive, that is they enrol most students from their area (government schools) and all others on a first come first serve basis. Selective schools give applicants an entrance test to assess their academic ability and enrol the top performers. Some schools have a mixture of selective and non-selective entry (gifted students or from scholarships). The government sector is up front in nominating which schools are selective, which are comprehensive and their enrolment policies. In the other two sectors information on their enrolment criteria can be found by running a search on wheretoschool.com.au and reading the enrolment section of the school’s profile.

5.      Academic Curriculum and Co-curriculum

When assessing a schools academic curriculum there are many ways. One is to have a look at the schools successes in teaching the core the subject areas that are in virtually every school. Amongst other English and Maths. The second is to look at what the school offers. Including choice of language or the range of its arts programs but also includes the “extras the school offers such as arts, sports, technology, and cultural activities such as religion or debating. These “extras” are known as co-curriculum.

6.      Specialist Schools

Australia has a number of schools that specialise in particular areas of the curriculum, such as the arts, technology, agriculture, sport or languages. There is usually some form of entry test or interview or both. Specialist schools will be equipped for both their speciality and for the general curriculum, which students must continue to do.

7.      Program-specific information

Gifted and Talented students are often given extension work to extend their curriculum and capacities and may do this work in extension classes. Similarly, there are specific programs for students with particular difficulties in learning.

8.      Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education

All government schools and many non-government schools in Australia have Aboriginal Education Programs. In many schools there is a requirement to nominate an Aboriginal Education Officer who will support students and assist with the development of improved curriculum and the teaching of Aboriginal Studies. These program are directed towards improved educational outcomes for Aboriginal students and an increased student and community knowledge of Aboriginal Australia.


1.      Gifted & Talented

“Gifted” usually means that a student is well ahead of their peers in academic work. “Talented” refers to exceptional ability in a single area, such as music or sport. Some schools have special program in which academically gifted children complete schooling in less than the usual number of years. Usually these aptly named “accelerated programs” and can require special entry tests. Other go for “extension” work which means students are given additional work and might be placed with a mentor.

2.      Special Education

Schools will do all they can within their capacity to enrol students with disabilities into mainstream study and school life. This process is known as “integration”. In government schools, the first step for school seekers is to contact the school, regular or specialist.  The school should then set up a support group to appraise the disability or impairment and apply for resources to meet the educational needs of the student. The local education authority will then decide whether the student is eligible for support and how much funding there will be.

3.      Home Schooling

Families may choose to provide home-based education for their children, even if they live close to schools; this is called home schooling and should not be confused with “distance education” or schooling by correspondence. In most states home-schoolers need to register with their local education authority in secondary years.

4.      Distance Education / Correspondence

 We are busy researching this topic and will deliver information on it soon.

5.      Recently arrived students / International Students

Newly arrived students with limited English will probably benefit from a period of time in a language centre. Some schools do provide English assistance to newly arrived students. Please use wheretoschool.com.au to find out whether the school you are interested in offers language support.


Boarding schools have established a strong reputation for providing rewarding opportunities for students who, for various reasons, live away from home whilst studying.

1.      Why choose boarding?

There are a number of reasons why students choose to live away from home. There rare some familles for whom a tradition spanning several generations or geographic isolation makes boarding a familiar and attractive option. For others overseas or contractual work and travel has the potential to disrupt schooling. In addition, there are you young students with special interests that are best met in a specialist setting rather than a nearby school.

Recently there has been an influx of international students who have wanted to complete their secondary education in Australia. Boarding is an attractive option for the such students who are able to enjoy an Australian rich environment found within the safety and comfort of a boarding school.

2.      Boarding opportunities at independent/private schools

There are generally two options available to students and their families: Boarding school or homestay. Many independent schools are able provide both.

Boarding Schools: boarding schools do all they can to provide a home away from home. Boarding options can range from full-time, seven days per week boarding, to Monday to Friday boarding. Students can now-a-days expect agreed opportunities to go out, especially on weekends. There may be co-curricular activities, entertainment and outings.


Parents of secondary school students in independent/private schools are always asked to pay fees and sometimes ask for building or development contributions. Government schools ask for voluntary contributions. The difference between sectors are quite significant. In Australia, government schools can ask parents with students in year 12 to volunteer between AU$10 and AU$800. At the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive independent/private school can charge around AU$19,000 to AU$21,000 per student. Please note that schools fees do not always include the extras listed below.

Some schools offer discounted fees for two or more students from the same family, many schools try to assist parents in cases of financial need, especially for students already enrolled at the school. Catholic schools may admit any child from a Catholic family irrespective of ability to pay. A number of the new independent schools allow parents to make part of their contribution via work in running and maintaining the school. Please note that schools fees are not tax-deductible and educational services do not attract GST (Good and Services Tax).

2.      Books, Materials, Equipment

Additional charges include such items as books, materials and equipment. A total of AU$300 or more is not unusual in Year 7 and this may double in Year 12 dependant on the courses taken. Students may be required to have a variety of equipment, such as a computer and a calculator. Some subjects, such as visual arts, may require additional materials.

3.      Uniforms

Some schools have a mix-and-match uniform, which is not an additional expense outside of the students current wardrobe. Other schools may prescribe more costly uniforms which include blazers and sporting equipment. Most Australian schools have strict policy on wearing school uniforms. You can view the schools uniform policies on wheretoschool.com.au where the uniform will be outlined for students. Full school uniforms covering everything from shoes to hats, summer and winter, as well as PE (Physical Education) and specific extra-curricular outfits can easily total AU$600 or more. Most schools have uniform shops, clothing pools or exchange schemes to buy used clothing as well as new uniforms.

4.      Extra Tuition / Private Tuition

The services can range from before and after-school care, to extra-maths classes, and instrumental lessons. These services can be arranged by private tuition business, home-tutors or through the school.

5.      Excursions, trips, camps

The activities can be compulsory, although many are not. Costs may range from a few dollars to several thousand for overseas trips. Trips can be that of a sporting nature, life skills, leadership or academic nature.

6.      Scholarships

Scholarships are available in all sectors and are a wonderful reward to both high-achievers and student who without financial assistance, could not attend the school. Generally, scholarships at fee paying schools cover all or part of tuition fees for one to five years. Government schools scholarships assistance for books, equipment and other cost associated with schooling. While scholarships can provide assistance with schooling costs, they should not be viewed as a basis on which to choose a secondary school.

7.      Government Allowances

There are various government allowances which include assistance to low-income families and youth allowances based on means-testing (income requirements) for eligibility. Please consult your local school on how to apply.


As well as assisting parents and students select a school which meets certain criteria and requirement wheretoschool.com.au provides a wealth of information, images, tours, and location information on other schools. Have a look at what else is available my altering your searches slightly you may be surprised at how much Australian schools can offer.


1.      University or other Tertiary Education

Two major things determine whether you or your child can get into a particular university or TAFE (Tertiary) course. How well they do at school and what subjects they do. Each state in Australia has a slightly different way of measuring the results a student obtains and matching their choice in subject with their results achieved. In each state there is a University Admission Centre which students apply through to get into University. Students completing their states equivalent to a High School Certificate have to apply for University Admission. The subjects a student selects whilst at school will have a major affect on the course they wish to pursuit. Some courses (for example Engineering, Medicine, Accounting and Science) set prerequisites. That is students wont be admitted unless they have done some certain subjects, usually Science and Maths. These subjects are done a majority of students in Year 12 for the sheer reason to keep their options open. If they do well enough in Maths and Science they stand a higher chance of getting into any course,

2.      University not for you?

Not all school-leavers go on to university-level courses. Entry into apprenticeships, or Certificate level courses in many fields, from clothing manufacture to secretarial studies, does not require a University Admission Result. Some TAFE courses, however, are in high demand, so one should be prepared for quotas and various methods of screening and selection. Many diplomas that can be done at TAFE institutes or private colleges, for example, now count for credit toward a university degree.


1.      School Terms

Different dates apply to Government, Catholic and Independent schools. However in most cases there are four terms or semesters. There are normally holiday or break periods between each term varying from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. Please consult your local education office for the exact dates.

Using this website to your advantage - Enrolling into Australian Schools

Wheretoschool.com.au will assist you in choosing a school by providing you with an overall picture of any school in Australia. You are in complete control by entering your preferences in the search criteria box. Our highly advanced search system will refine your results down to a list of the schools which mach your criteria. In some cases this will only be a few schools. I less defined searches you may find many schools. For this reason we have developed a comparison feature which allows you to select a number of schools which interest you. You are then able to view these schools in a side-by-side profile before deciding which school you would like to make an enquiry to or apply for their waiting list. The information you find on wheretoschool.com.au is highly accurate as schools have entered that information themselves. It is always recommended that you consult the schools website for information and speak to people about the school before making your final decision.

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