How to find the right school for your migrant child

Finding the right school for your migrant child is an important concern for many migrant parents.

You will wonder:

  • Will my kids fit in?
  • Will they be able to adapt to a different schooling environment?
  • How will the education they get in Australia compare to the education back home?
  • How can I prepare them?

Don’t panic.

Many migrant children have found schooling in Australia a refreshing and enjoyable experience. There are also many helpful resources out there to help you choose the right school for your child. We’ve put together a list of factors you should consider before making a decision.

Choosing the right school type

What makes education decisions complicated for migrant parents is the variety of school types in Australia. There are state schools (also known as public schools) and private schools.

Is it worth paying more for private schooling, or are public schools just as good? Rest assured that even local parents wrestle with the question!

Some good resources can help.

The Good Schools Guide contains information provided by parents on primary schools, secondary schools, boarding schools and scholarships. It gives you the ability to compare all schools side by side, allowing you to make comparisons based on what is relevant to you.

My School is a unique and innovative online resource provided by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). It provides up-to-date, quality data on more than 9,500 Australian schools.

Important: If you are coming to Australia on a temporary visa instead of a Permanent Residency visa, please be aware of potential additional fees.

Keen to hear a migrant parent’s experience? Check out Bob in Oz’s thoughts on choosing between state and private schools for his kids.

Understanding NAPLAN is important for migrant children

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) can be a helpful tool by which to assess your child’s ability. Sample tests should give you a good idea of what’s required at your child’s schooling level.

The NAPLAN test starts in Year 3.

Understanding your child’s talents and abilities

Is English your child’s first language? If not, the first thing to do to ensure a smooth transition is to enrol your child in English language programs. Chinese speakers can refer to this helpful resource.

Children learn very quickly, so you should not underestimate your child’s ability to adapt!

Is your child gifted academically, or in sports and music? If so, it is worth enquiring about Gifted and Talented Programs and scholarships offered by schools in your area. You might also want to check out special interest schools focusing on particular fields, such as science or the performing arts. These schools may provide opportunities that are unavailable for your child in your homeland.

Know there are extra school fees for visa-holders

In the state of Queensland, people on a bridging visa or temporary visa may be required to pay additional school fees, even in state schools. These can be as high as  $287 per child, per week. Not all schools charge this fee, but all state schools are supposed to. It is important that if you are on a bridging or temporary visa (or are considering one) to factor this charge into your schooling budget. Read more about fees here.

Do you have other concerns and questions about migrating to Australia? Call our expert lawyers so we can help you on your journey »

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