Brisbane has a great selection of quality public primary and high schools throughout the city all of which are overseen by the Queensland Department of Education. Most schools and especially those with good academic reputations have a strict Enrolment Management Plan requiring students to live near the school in the designated catchment area which immediately surrounds the school in order to enrol. For families relocating to Brisbane this means that a public school search will go hand in hand with a home search. It is typical for families to narrow down schools first and then concentrate their home search within specific catchment areas.
Public school tuition is free for children of permanent Australian residents and Australian Citizens. In addition, some temporary visa holders may be exempt from paying international student fees at Queensland public schools (including school aged dependents of 482 visa holders, certain student visa holders and New Zealand citizens). Families will still need to budget for additional costs including school excursions, technology fees, school supplies, textbooks, school uniform and extra curricular activities.
Queensland School Levels
The Queensland education system starts with one year of Prep for children turning 5 before 30 June in the year they enrol and then six more years in Primary School (Primary being Prep to Grade 6) and six years of High School (Grades 7 to 12) for a total of 13 years. Upon completion students are usually 17 or 18 years of age. In addition, many parents choose to send their children to Kindergarten (“Kindie”). Kindie programs are offered by independent providers which charge fees and are often play-based learning facilities. Many Kindie providers have waiting lists and the largest provider in Queensland is C&K. For the purposes of determining a child’s “age” for a particular year level the cut-off is calculated to be June 30th.
Specialist public schools
There are several selective schools in Brisbane that offer places to children with particular academic, sporting or artistic prowess. One of the most competitive schools in Queensland is Brisbane State High School, which is a “selective” public school. This school also does take students from a very small catchment area around South Brisbane. It is possible for a child to be accepted into this school via a selection process that is quite rigorous and requires entry examinations that must be undertaken at set times while the child is still at primary school. Other schools offer certain specia
list programs and scholarships for students that pass entry testing and selection include Queensland Academies Creative Industries (QACI) in Kelvin Grove for years 10-12 and Queensland Academies Science, Maths and Technologies (QASMT) in Toowong offers places for year 7-12.
Queensland public schools follow the Australian Curriculum. However, a limited number of public high schools offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (e.g. QACI, QASMT, Indooroopilly State High, Calamvale Community College and Cleveland District State High School). A limited number of public high schools offer language immersion programs to selected students including Mansfield State High, Kenmore State High, Indooroopilly State High, Ferny Grove State High. Some State High Schools also offer excellence programs for selected students. For example, Kelvin Grove State College has programs of excellence for select students in a variety of areas including dance, ballet, art, golf, football, tennis in various year levels. Indooroopilly State High School offers Chinese Acceleration, Mathematics, Music Acceleration and Aviation Programs. Aviation State High in Balmoral offers specialty subjects for students considering careers in the aviation and aeronautics industries.
For children with an intellectual disability that either on its own or in combination with other disabilities severely impacts on their ability to access and participate in education, you do have the option to enrol in your local school. 'Mainstream' local schools do have resources to create individualised programs and additional support for children with certain needs such as autism, emotional/behavioural, English learning and general learning difficulties. Alternatively, there is the option for enrolment in a state special school as long as the child meets set criteria and the school can deal adequately with the child's needs. Fore example, Red Hill Special School provides tailored programs for children and students with complex support needs and is open to children from birth to school leaving age. Aspley Special School provides tailored programs for secondary students with complex support requirements. Nursery Rd Special School in Holland Park provides programs for students aged 5 to18 years identified as having a disability, and who require specialised programs due to the high level of teaching adjustments required due to intellectual impairment or multiple impairments. Stafford State School has a unit catering for Hearing Impaired students ranging from prep to year 6 with some students also have a variety of other disabilities. This is not an exhaustive listing of schools with special needs programs and more information can be obtained from the Queensland Department of Education.
School Calendar and Times
The School Calendar varies from year to year, but in general terms it is divided into 4 Terms. Each Term is divided by a two-week holiday with a longer break over the Christmas period. Typical dates are as follows:-
· 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 early July to late September.
· Term 4 is early October and finishes early December.
Calendar Dates including Public Holidays and Pupil-free days can be referred to at Education Queensland.
Uniforms and Immunisations
Almost all public schools in Queensland, require students to wear a uniform and/or have dress codes. Queensland schools also have strict “No Hat, No Play” policies which are extremely important in Queensland, where the UV risk is often “extreme” in the spring, summer and autumn months.
The Public Health Act in Australia requires all primary schools, pre-schools and child care centres to request and record the immunisation status of each enrolled child. The Immunisation History Statement which is issued by the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) qualifies as proof of immunisation status. If a child has been immunized overseas, the parent should consult a local doctor who can assess whether the child needs any additional vaccines. Importantly, if a parent refuses to provide a History Statement, their child will be classified as un-immunised and may be excluded from school if there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease in the facility.
Applying to Public Schools
A very 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 outcomes. Another website that ranks Queensland schools (mainly by academics) is Better Education. The Courier Mail newspaper allows you to compare schools on certain basis with other relevant articles at a useful website which they publish.
Most schools offer School Tours and Open Days (particularly at high school level). 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. It may be possible to arrange a arrange a personal tour or visit depending on your circumstances (however, this is often not possible at many sought after schools until you are eligible for enrolment by securing a property in the relevant school catchment area).
In terms of applying, children often simply attend the school which coincides with the catchment area for where they live. However, it is possible to apply to another state school outside of your catchment area if you so wish, depending on availability. In such cases an application will be necessary and it may be that you will be placed on a waiting list, if the school is popular and has good academic results. Every school will have a catchment area map (which will be on their website). In any event, every school will require an application for enrolment document to be completed, accompanied by certain supporting documents such as birth certificate and proof of residency.
Habitat Relocations has assisted many families relocating to Brisbane with children to find the right schools that fit the needs of their children and family. A public school search combined with home search services gives them a flying start to settling in to a suitable area in Brisbane as quickly as possible and with minimum stress for the whole family.