Education and Schools in Melbourne
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For expats with children, one of their foremost concerns will be ensuring that there is access to good education in their destination, whether in the form of public schools or private schools.
Melbourne is home to numerous good government schools as well as highly rated private and independent schools, many of which are Catholic. Although expats would be hard-pressed to find a school in Melbourne offering the curriculum of another country, there are a number of schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), which is recognised worldwide.
In the state of Victoria, school attendance is compulsory from the ages of six to 17. The school year is divided into four terms, beginning in January and running until early December.
Public schools in Melbourne
Any child in Melbourne may attend a public school, regardless of their parent's visa status. However, the parent's visa status is likely to affect the fees associated with doing so. It is best for expat parents to consult with Victoria's Department of Education and Training to find out whether they will need to pay fees and if so, what the amount will be.
Residential areas are divided into different "zones", and where one lives will determine which schooling zone they belong to. These zones are strict and an expats inclusion in a zone may come down to which side of the road they live on. It is possible to attend a school outside of the assigned zone but only if that school has space available, which may not be the case in the more acclaimed government schools in Melbourne. For this reason, it is often best to base accommodation searches on the desired school zone.
Private schools in Melbourne
Most of Melbourne's private schools are Catholic schools. Although Catholic students from the local area around the school are given preference, non-Catholic students may be admitted if there is space.
Non-Catholic private schools may be categorised as "independent schools", and include schools of other religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Independent schools also include schools which follow a particular educational philosophy or curriculum, such as Montessori or vocational schools.
International schools in Melbourne
With just a handful of international schools available in Melbourne, parents who want their children to continue studying their home curriculum may be out of luck. Most of the city's international schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB). However, the fact that the IB is a standard international programme can make this an ideal solution for expat parents who move around a lot.
Melbourne's international schools offer a high quality of education but this comes at a price; their fees are typically well above those of local schools. In some cases, parents may be able to negotiate an education allowance with their employer as part of a relocation package. This kind of financial support can be very helpful, although parents should keep in mind that there may be additional expenses above and beyond school fees, such as for uniforms and textbooks.