Choosing an Australian School

If you are on your way home to Australia, selecting an appropriate school for your children is a very important consideration. In fact, we have often found, unless you are going back into your existing home, that the location of the school often drives your housing choice.

Selecting the best school for your children is not all about academic results, but it can play a large role. In many respects, some changes in recent years have opened a window into the murky area of how schools compare on an academic basis. The first has been the introduction of a series of common literacy and numeracy tests on a nationwide basis for all students in in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. These are referred to as NAPLAN (National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy) tests - see www.naplan.edu.au.

Secondly, the results of these tests, as well as information on the individual characteristics of schools - such as staffing and funding levels - has been integrated on the website My School.

The publication of these results has ushered in a small revolution, with some positive and negative characteristics, including:

  1. Although the results do not include how well a school performs in terms of secondary results, it is fairly clear that some private schools are not performing well enough to justify their fees. Certainly, the results have introduced a greater level of objectivity and focus on "value for money" in the private sector although education costs continue to outpace general inflation..
  2. One untoward aspect of a greater level of competition is that some private schools are now requiring child's NAPLAN results as part of their application process
  3. Many schools are clearly focusing their teaching on "NAPLAN" and doing as well as possible in the annual assessments - not a bad thing as long as NAPLAN is a fair and representative learning target.

So, if you're coming back to Australia use the My School website to review the available schools - and it wouldn't do any harm to become familiar with NAPLAN. Also, if you intend for your children to go into private schooling then, given the lifelong cost attaching, I would recommend using an education consultant to match your child and school as well as possible. There are many factors outside of NAPLAN which go into selecting a successful school for your child.