Although the public schooling system in Brisbane is generally of high quality, many families do choose to send their children to a private school. This may be for religious reasons, increased focus on pastoral care, academic reputation, availability of state-of-the-art educational or extra curricular facilities, specialist staff, increased variety of sporting and extra curricular activities on offer, boarding requirements and so on. Habitat Relocations understand that settling children in to the right school as quickly as possible is critical to the success to their relocation to Brisbane. Our experienced relocation consultants provide a private school search program to assist families to choose the right school for their families' specific needs. We listen carefully to understand what is of importance to your family and children, offer relevant advice on private schooling options, determine place availability, facilitate school tours, assist with enrolments and may even be able to put you into contact with other parents at short listed schools in order to make this important decision with confidence.
Types of Schools
There are twp types of private schools throughout Brisbane: Independent and Catholic.
Independent Private Schools are run by an independent board and require a tuition to be paid and generally offer more teacher autonomy, services and facilities than in the public school system. The teachers are often of a similar standard and have the same teaching qualifications as public school teachers (although prestigious private schools may attract some teaching staff with high levels of qualification including masters and PhD). Entry of students to such schools is generally more competitive with waiting lists and/or entry examinations or interviews often required. Private schools can be either co-educational or single sex but the majority of private schools, especially at high school level are single sex. Around 14% of students are enrolled in private schools. Some independent schools do have religious affiliations, e.g. Lutheran, Christian, Uniting. Presbyterian and Anglican and there aother that are non-denominational.
Catholic schools are administered by the Catholic Education Office in each diocese. Making up approximately 20% of the student body in Australia, Catholic schools usually charge extra for tuition. Priority is normally given to the local Catholic community although non-Catholics are often accepted. Catholic schools are typically co-ed at the primary school level and same-sex at the high school level.
Tuition and Other Fees
Tuition fees for private schools in Brisbane do vary considerably from school to school but, in general, are significantly less than similar schools in Sydney and Melbourne. Independent school fees tend to increase from junior to senior school and have separate fee structures for Australian residents and international students. Australian resident fees will apply for students that are citizens or permanent residents of Australia and also include dependents of certain temporary visa holders (including certain student visa holders, 482 visa holders and New Zealand residents).
The most expensive independent and Catholic schools in Brisbane have fees approaching $28,000pa for senior school years. However, there are private schools with fees closer to $15,000pa or less for senior school years. Catholic school fees are generally less than those of independent schools and can be as low as $3,000 (less for multiple children) at primary school level. Most schools offer small discounts for upfront annual payment and offer other payment options. In addition, some families use Ed Start, a specialist credit provider, to manage school fee payments. Some private schools also offer sibling discounts. When comparing school fees is it important to understand whether the fees quoted are "all inclusive", i.e. include all excursions, retreats, camps, student insurance, bus transport, school magazine, student testing and subject levies, school sporting events and music ensembles. It should also be note that many private schools will charge technology levies separately. Special note should be made of sporting fees, music and other extra-curricular fees that may be applicable. In addition, all private schools have strict school and sporting uniform requirements and, as such, uniform costs are not insignificant. A limited number of highly competitive scholarships are available at most schools.
School Calendar and Times
The School Calendar varies from year to year and generally follows the public school 4 term year. Each Term is divided by a two-week holiday. Private schools often have a longer school day than public schools and, therefore, typically have some additional holidays in between term times. Private and Catholic schools the mid-year holiday will often be three weeks, as opposed to two and often finish at least a week earlier that public schools (even earlier for private high schools).
· Term 1 commences at the end of January and goes until the Easter holidays.
· Term 2 usually commences mid-April to late June.
· Term 3 is mid July to late September.
· Term 4 is early October and finishes late November/ early December.
Every private school will have slightly unique bell times and school term dates which will be clearly posted to the school community.
Most schools offer a variety of in-house sports programs as well as mandatory Physical Education classes. The most popular sports in Queensland schools are Swimming, Tennis, Cricket, Rugby (Union, League and Touch) and Soccer. Basketball and Volleyball are becoming increasingly popular at high school level. Water Polo, Netball and Hockey are popular sports for girls. Because of the warm weather, many sports are outdoor and schools often support a range of other physical activities such as running clubs, triathlon training, gymnastics and the like.
Private high schools will participate in various inter-school sporting competitions and leagues. The Greater Public Schools Association of Queensland (“GPS”) organises competitions across 16 sports and cultural activities for the established private schools (boys) and includes public Brisbane State High School. Other independent and Catholic Boys schools compete in the Associated Independent Colleges (AIC) competition. Seven independent girls schools and Brisbane State High School compete in the Queensland Girls Secondary Schools Sports Association (QGSSSA) and 14 catholic girls school are members of the Catholic Secondary Schoolgirls' Sports Association (CaSSSA), each association offering a wide range of sports. If your child is a competitive sportsperson, you may want to consider a school with a sporting association affiliation and determine what schools are strong in sports of interest to your child. Sporting scholarships are also available at many private schools for a limited number of top performing students.
School Results and Comparison Tools
Most but (not all) of the top academic schools in Brisbane are private schools. The few selective public schools score very highly every year, notably Brisbane State School and the Queensland Academies schools. In addition, some of the inner city state high schools consistently rank highly.
One indicator of a school's academic strength is historical NAPLAN scores. These are based on external examinations held across Australia in grades 3, 5, 7 and 9. For children wishing to continue with tertiary education after high school, historical OP (or ATAR from 2020) results for your 12 cohorts will also be important. One website that ranks Queensland schools on mainly academics is Better Education and also the Courier Mail newspaper allows you to compare Brisbane schools on certain basis and also contains education related articles. One helpful resource to start researching Brisbane Private Schools is The Private Schools Guide.
A useful website for researching schools in an area is the MySchool website. It provides a wealth of details such as a school’s mission statement, school website links, school size, finances, student backgrounds and historical outcomes. Another important factor to assess when comparing schools is student gain and comparing this to schools with similar student backgrounds, which indicates to what extent a school is improving student outcomes. When assessing schools, academic performance is, of course,only one one factor. Families will also be interested in other non-academic factors including school philosophy and culture, stability of leadership, variety subjects offered, extra curricular activities and sports available, facilities, academic support and extension programs, parental involvement, vocational training opportunities and so on.
In order to get a feel for any particular school, it is critical to visit the school and speak with members of the leadership team and teaching staff. Typically, most schools offer School Tours and Open Days. Open days are pre-scheduled, quite popular and will involve a lot of activities, extra-information as well as opportunities to speak with students at the school and/or teachers. However, these usually only happen once or twice per year so it is more likely that you will want to arrange a personal tour or visit. Private schools will book private tours as needed.
Applying to Schools
Private schools will require a formal enrolment application and possibly a non-refundable deposit to be made in order to secure a place. If there are no vacancies (or you are applying in advance), your child will be placed on a waiting or enrolment list. Typically, schools will ask for more comprehensive supporting documentation and information about your child to allow them to make enrolment decisions. Sometimes interviews are required. Usually private schools are booked up well in advance, however most schools allow some discretion for overseas or interstate migrations. Habitat Relocations can assist with short listing of schools, determining place availability, arranging school tours and even may be able to connect you with families in schools you are interested in to get an insiders view. Contact us today!