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Sydney caters to a broad range of educational needs. Expat children can attend public-, faith-based-, private- or international schools in Sydney. High school graduates can choose from several prestigious universities, including the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.
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.
Public schools in Sydney
The quality of public education in Sydney is generally good. Like elsewhere in the world, schools' performance is influenced by sociodemographic factors such as location and funding.
The language of instruction in public schools is English. English proficiency is not a requirement for students in primary school – that is, from Kindergarten up to Year 6. After this, students enter Junior High School at Year 7. It is from this point that English proficiency is a requirement for entry into Sydney public schools.
DE International is the international division of the NSW Department of Education. As a resource for non-Australian students, DE International provides guidance to international students attending government schools. This includes providing bridging classes for pupils aged 12 and up at their Intensive English Centres (IEC).
Children attend public schools based on zones, or catchment areas. The details of which neighbourhoods filter into which schools are usually available on school websites. Expat families often base accommodation decisions around access to preferred schooling.
Public schools generally accept enrolment throughout the year before the child is due to start. Parents are required to submit an application form along with supporting documentation such as proof of residence.
Faith-based schools in Sydney
Faith-based education is common in Sydney. Catholic primary and high schools, run by Sydney Catholic Schools NSW, are particularly popular.
The Catholic education system has an excellent reputation in Sydney. Many parents see this as a comfortable middle-ground between public and private education. This option is popular among expats living in Australia on a temporary residence visa, as fees for faith-based schools are often lower than the fees temporary residents are required to pay for access to the public system.
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.
These schools allow children the opportunity to study their home curriculum 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. International schools also offer an easy way for parents and children alike to meet other expats and settle into Sydney with greater ease.
Special educational needs in Sydney
Public schools in New South Wales are required to offer personalised learning and support for students with special educational needs. Schools are responsible for making initial assessments of special needs, implementing reasonable adjustments according to those needs, and monitoring the impact of the interventions. This process is a collaborative effort between parents, school staff and any external professionals involved in managing the child's condition.
Tutors in Sydney
Whether a child needs a helping hand with a particular subject or more general skills such as essay writing, tutors can be a great resource for expat parents. If necessary, there are also tutors that can assist with the transition into a new curriculum and development of English skills, helping to ease the pressure new arrivals face at school.
There are a number of highly recommended tutoring companies in Sydney, including Alchemy Tuition, C3 Education Group and LearnMate Tutoring.
►See our recommendations for family-friendly neighbourhoods in Areas and Suburbs in Sydney
Are you an expat living in Sydney?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sydney. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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