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As in greater Australia, children can attend a public school, a Catholic private school, an independent school or an international school in Perth.
Children in Perth tend to start school early, and most attend kindergarten. School attendance officially becomes compulsory from age 5 and remains so until students turn 16.
Public schools in Perth
Any child of age in Perth is eligible to attend a public school, regardless of their parents' visa status. However, the parent's visa status is likely to affect the fees associated with doing so.
Generally speaking, foreigners in the country on a permanent visa are entitled to send their children to public schools in Perth tuition-free. Those in Australia on a temporary visa, however, will likely have to pay an annual tuition fee if they want their child to attend a public school.
School attendance is not strictly based on neighbourhood, but children are almost guaranteed a spot at their local school. This includes expat children, provided their parents are on a permanent visa or qualifying temporary visa. However, area zoning for schools can be strict and schools may be quickly filled up by qualifying children in the zone.
Although expats may choose to apply to send their children to schools outside their local area if they wish, the fact that they are not guaranteed a spot can create a lot of uncertainty. This is particularly true of popular schools with good reputations. For this reason, parents with a particular school in mind should research school zones thoroughly before deciding where to live – sometimes simply living on a certain side of the street is enough for a child to be categorised as external to the area.
Private and independent schools in Perth
Many of the city's private schools are Catholic. Catholic Education West Australia is the organisation responsible for coordinating the administration, curriculum and policy of these 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 and schools that follow a particular educational philosophy, such as Montessori.
International schools in Perth
With just a handful of international schools available in Perth, parents who wish for their children to continue studying their home curriculum may be out of luck, as all but one of the city's international schools teach the International Baccalaureate as opposed to the curriculum of a foreign country. Japanese parents, however, will be glad to know that there is a Japanese school in Perth.
Perth'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 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 uniforms and textbooks.
►For information on recommended family-friendly neighbourhoods, see Areas and Suburbs in Perth
Are you an expat living in Perth?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Perth. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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