Education and Schools in Sydney

Sydney caters to a broad range of educational needs. Expat children can attend public, faith-based, co-educational, private, or independent schools in Sydney. High school graduates can choose from several prestigious universities, including the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.

There are a number of factors expat parents will need to think about prior to selecting a school for their child, but first and foremost, they will need to consider their family’s education entitlements, which are dependent on the type of visa one possesses. Those with permanent residency status have access to free public education. Families living in Australia on a temporary resident visa will have to pay for their children's schooling. 


Education in Sydney

In Sydney, it is common for children to attend pre-school before starting primary school. Some primary schools have linked pre-schools, and most daycare centres have a separate pre-school class. However, school only becomes compulsory at age six, at which point it becomes compulsory to attend school until the age of 17.

Students attend primary school from Kindergarten to Year 6, with high school being Years 7 to 12. While primary schools are typically co-educational, it’s common for students to attend single-sex high schools in Sydney.

The culmination of school education in the province of New South Wales (NSW) comes in the form of the Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams, which are taken in Year 12.


Selecting and enrolling in a school

Parents increasingly refer to the government’s MySchool website when selecting schools. The website offers profiles on various schools, including school populations and performance information.

The quality of public education in Sydney is generally good. Like elsewhere in the world, performance is influenced by socio-demographic factors such as location and funding. The Catholic education system has an excellent reputation in Sydney. Many parents see this as a comfortable middle-ground between public and private education.


Public schools in Sydney 

Public schools generally accept enrollment throughout the year before the child is due to start. The NSW Department of Education provides an enrollment form. Supporting documentation must be provided in addition to the enrollment form.

Children attend public schools based on zones, or catchment areas. The details of which neighbourhoods filter into which schools are available on school websites. Expat families often base acommodation decisions around access to schooling.


Faith-based schools in Sydney 

Faith-based education is common in Sydney. Catholic primary and high schools, run by the Catholic Education Office Sydney, are particularly popular. Most suburbs have a Catholic primary school, and schools may accept some non-Catholic families as long as they agree to support the values of the Catholic Church.

This option is popular among expats living in Australia on a temporary residence visa, as fees for faith-based schools are often less than what temporary residents are required to pay for access to the public system.


Private and selective schools in Sydney 

There are a number of private schools and academically selective public schools in Sydney; the most popular schools have waiting lists, so parents should express an interest as early as possible. To get a place at an academically selective government school, students sit exams the year before they are due to commence.


International schools in Sydney

Although international schools tend to have by far the priciest fees of all the Sydney education options, many expats feel that the cost justifies the benefits of sending their child to an international school.

Firstly, it allows the child the opportunity to study their home curriculum (if available) or an internationally recognised curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate. Studying a familiar curriculum ensures continuity and minimises the disruption in the child's learning during relocation. Secondly, international schools offer an easy way for parents and children alike to meet other expats and settle into Sydney with more ease.

The options for international schooling in Sydney include schools representing countries such as the USA, France, Germany, Japan or China.