The best primary schools in Canberra

Emily Morris 16 July 2021 39
Primary Schools in the ACT

Where are the best primary schools in Canberra? Photo: File.

This has been updated for March 2021

We all want children to have the best opportunities in life and a good education is essential. While the best education always starts at home, choosing a primary school that will enable your child to learn and thrive is important.

But what is the “best primary school”? Many parents start by deciding whether they want a private or public education for their child. Other factors include the school’s academic record, size and location. Anecdotal experiences reported by other parents can also help.

This updated post covers some of the information parents can consider when determining the ideal school for their child.

Private versus public

Deciding to send your child to a private or public school is largely personal preference. You might want a school with a specific set of values, ethos, focus or extracurricular options. If so, private or independent schooling may be best. However, you need to consider cost, with private schools charging higher annual fees ranging from more than $5,000 per year to more than $18,000 (fees vary year-on-year).

Priority Enrolment Areas

If you decide on public schooling, where you live plays a significant role in determining your options. This is because addresses are zoned for particular schools. They are mapped into Priority Enrolment Areas (PEAs). Each school gives enrolment priority to students living in its PEA. If you love a school and don’t live in that PEA there’s no guarantee your child will be accepted.

Academic record

A school’s academic record is likely an important factor in selecting the best primary school for your child. You can check Better Education, a free school directory and information website that compares schools in each state and territory for a school’s academic record and other attributes.

Here are the highest-ranking schools in the ACT for 2020, with an overall score of 97 or more.

Top primary schools in Canberra – 2020

School Score English Maths Enrolments Locality
Canberra Girls’ Grammar School 100 5 5 1251 Deakin
Garran Primary School 100 5 5 603 Garran
Aranda Primary School 99 5 5 541 Aranda
Canberra Grammar School 99 5 5 1953 Red Hill
Radford College 98 5 5 1933 Bruce
Emmaus Christian School 98 5 5 308 Dickson
Telopea Park School 98 5 5 1426 Barton
Brindabella Christian College 97 5 5 973 Lyneham
Burgmann Anglican School 97 5 5 1442 Gungahlin
Turner School 97 5 4 489 Turner

Source: Better Education (https://bettereducation.com.au/school/Primary/act/canberra_top_primary_schools.aspx)

Anecdotal feedback

Price, location and performance of a school are all important factors in your decision making. You can also consider anecdotal feedback from other parents.

Here is a summary of some primary schools recommended by other parents in response to a previous post:

  • “Monash primary school is good if you want public in the Tuggeranong area.
  • “Chapman primary is great for Weston Creek.”
  • “Aranda and Majura Primaries are two that have particularly good reputations.”
  • “In Belconnen, Marybynong Primary in Kaleen seems to be the stand-out at the moment. Arawang seems to be doing well in the Weston area.
  • “… if you head to the far, far north Burgmann in Gungahlin is fine (private however).”
  • “Maribynong was good for those who had a creative side back in the day.”
  • “Miles Franklin Primary in Evatt is great … and this is coming from me who was highly critical of the Govt primary system with my other 3 kids who are still attending Catholic schools.”
  • “Fraser Primary, Charnwood Primary (improving I hear), Latham Primary, Kaleen Primary”
  • “Latham is a well-kept secret (well, it was). Definitely worth a try if you can’t get a house close to Maribyrnong.”
  • “Arawang Primary … looks great. Smaller than some of the other primary schools, but still with a really nice parent community.”
  • “Torrens Primary is a very traditional-style school culture.”
  • “Mawson Primary has a bilingual Chinese language program, and has a Chinese language pre-school nearby too.”
  • “Farrer Primary is a nice smaller school with a friendly culture …”
  • “Hughes Primary is a great school, they have lots of English as a second language programs and a very friendly, multi-cultural community.”
  • “Garran Primary is another great school, bigger than Hughes. They have a new environment program, and run programs for gifted and talented and kids with learning difficulties.”
  • Curtin Primary is another school similar in size to Garran, and has programs for gifted & talented and kids with learning difficulties.”
  • “Lyons is an early childhood centre – pre-school to Year 2. Which means your child needs to move in Year 3 to a P-6 school.”
  • Yarralumla Primary School (inner South, next suburb North of Curtin) has a bi-lingual Italian program and is now one of the smallest schools in Canberra.”
  • “Garran, Curtin, Forrest and Chapman Primary Schools all have good names. My daughter went to Garran for about three years and I was sorry to leave it.”
  • “I believe Holder and Waramanga Primary are pretty good too in the Weston Creek area.”
  • “Chapman is also in this area. I have a few friends with kids in these schools who are very happy.”
  • “Steiner School is also in Weston if you want an alternative choice.”
  • “For affordable rent and a good government primary school I think you will have to look at Weston Creek or Belconnen.”
  • “Yarralumla and Garran primaries may well be excellent, but the rent would be enormous.”
  • “I think Waramanga or Kaleen would be good choices, and not too far from the rest of Canberra either.”

What's Your Opinion?


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39 Responses to The best primary schools in Canberra
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threepiggies threepiggies 1:54 pm 19 Mar 18

Hi?everyone
I want to send my kids to a primary school in woden which is 3 minutes walking distance from my home…however, it is out our PEA…I am seriously thinking of rent a house within PEA and rent our house out…i applies for several properties but it is a high season and nobody wants to rent house to the applicants with kids…Could anybody give me some suggestions, Please…

    Sarah Selleck Sarah Selleck 8:36 pm 09 Jan 21

    I know this is a very old post but does anyone know how Yarralumla primary is going these days?

melavaliv melavaliv 12:06 am 27 May 10

I am in the same position too. Moving down in a few months and my daughter will be in pre school next year. Am wondering what pre school I should send her to and if I should look at sending her to a pre school that is connected with the primary school. Any heplful information would be great as I have no idea about areas in Canberra
I would love to hear how Begbie and skiddy went with their school searching too…….

skiddy skiddy 10:48 pm 10 Mar 10

Hi Begbie – I’m going to be in the same position as you next year (moving 3 daughters from Perth – eldest starts school in 2011). Just wondering what you ended up doing and how you’ve found the school/suburb?

jasmine jasmine 1:41 pm 05 Jan 10

Correction, yes I meant Duffy Primary not Holder (which has closed).

2604 2604 3:37 pm 02 Jan 10

s-s-a said :

because the school is in a suburb that the bogans (and we) can’t afford to live in

The qualifier “can’t afford to live in” won’t apply to occupants of government housing.

Surprising to read this kind of elitist dross on a website which is usually overflowing with champagne socialism (not to mention vitriol directed at kids attending “elitist” private schools, and their parents).

The idea that your children will be better people for not having to attend the same school as the kids of “bogans” is certainly an intriguing one. Especially considering that suburbs like Yarralumla are now full of real estate agents and other nouveau-riche types, some of whom are very “bogan” indeed. Same with kids who live in “government housing” – presumably a misinformed reference to public housing – plenty of whom aren’t disruptive and are happy to be attending school.

I-filed I-filed 2:54 pm 02 Jan 10

Forrest certainly used to have govt housing, and Campbell still does …

s-s-a s-s-a 9:14 am 02 Jan 10

The within PEA numbers are usually filled by April the previous year with the leftover spots handed out after April for non PEA kids. Don’t delay enrolment.

I was under the impression that preschool enrolments opened 1 May, with places filled in order of application.

I am not sure about school enrolment, because for children going to the school aligned with their preschool there is no longer a need to re-enrol.

because the school is in a suburb that the bogans (and we) can’t afford to live in

The qualifier “can’t afford to live in” won’t apply to occupants of government housing. It used to be the case that only five suburbs in Canberra did not have government housing (from distant memory they were Forrest, Campbell, Chapman, O’Malley and ummmm???). Since all the school closures, I doubt there is any government primary school that has a PEA without government housing, maybe Forrest but that’s about all.

emd emd 9:09 am 02 Jan 10

Getting into an out-of-PEA primary school is no guarantee you’ll get into an out-of-PEA pre-school. Even more stupid is when the primary school and pre-school are co-located, and you can get into the primary school as PEA but can’t get into the co-located pre-school as out-of-PEA.

I reckon it’s all a conspiracy to make us all home-school, so education is no longer a government expense.

Funky1 Funky1 6:17 pm 01 Jan 10

bilby said :

We live in Yarralumla but after looking at Forrest and Yarralumla PS we decided on Curtin PS. The principal is very switched on, and seems to be very involved in the curriculum. Our preference was Yarralumla but they are going Italian immersion this year so we decided to go elsewhere.

Yarralumla has had the Italian program for at least a year now and it is not compulsory for all students, just those who what to participate. The program transferred from Lyons after it went Early Childhood.

begbie01 begbie01 3:47 pm 01 Jan 10

TAD said :

@ Sepi
The reason we chose an out of PEA school is that during preschool we were far less than impressed with our local school during the year. (re: bullying and cliques being out of control where are daughter was miserable at school).

The new school is so much better in every way, mainly because the school is in a suburb that the bogans (and we) can’t afford to live in.

Hi TAD, could you email me the school’s name? “begbie01@gmail.com”
My wife & I would be very interested to find out.
Thanks for your advice.

somewhere_between_bundah_and_goulburn somewhere_between_bundah_and_goulburn 2:34 pm 01 Jan 10

I forgot to add, avoid the Super Schools (Amaroo, Kingsford Smith, etc), they’re over-rated rubbish.

TAD TAD 1:55 pm 01 Jan 10

@ Sepi http://www.det.act.gov.au/school_education/choosing_a_school/priority_enrolment_areas

We managed to get our daughter in a school out of PEA, so it’s not impossible. The rules are basically, if you live within the PEA they must enrol your child, if out of the PEA then only if there is room. The within PEA numbers are usually filled by April the previous year with the leftover spots handed out after April for non PEA kids. Don’t delay enrolment.

The reason we chose an out of PEA school is that during preschool we were far less than impressed with our local school during the year. (re: bullying and cliques being out of control where are daughter was miserable at school).

The new school is so much better in every way, mainly because the school is in a suburb that the bogans (and we) can’t afford to live in.

sepi sepi 9:45 pm 31 Dec 09

Ps – where can I find the Priority areas for Pre-schools?

sepi sepi 9:35 pm 31 Dec 09

For affordable rent and a good government primary school I think you will have to look at Weston Creek or Belconnen.

Yarralumla and Garran primaries may well be excellent, but the rent would be enormous.

I think Waramanga or Kaleen would be good choices, and not too far from the rest of Canberra either.

s-s-a s-s-a 6:15 pm 31 Dec 09

^^ There is no longer a primary school in Holder. If you’re talking about Duffy then yes it is quite good. It’s almost as small as Yarralumla – at Duffy 227 students in ’08 included three preschool classes, listed enrolment for Yarra was 217. I know quite a few families at Yarralumla who are really happy with it.

Farrer Primary is a nice smaller school with a friendly culture, but the buildings are a bit run-down

That may have been the case in the past, but with the amount of building work going on at schools in recent months you really can’t tell until everything is done next year. I had reason to visit Farrer a few times through work this year and found the principal and staff and programs impressive.

bilby bilby 5:03 pm 31 Dec 09

We live in Yarralumla but after looking at Forrest and Yarralumla PS we decided on Curtin PS. The principal is very switched on, and seems to be very involved in the curriculum. Our preference was Yarralumla but they are going Italian immersion this year so we decided to go elsewhere.

jasmine jasmine 12:38 pm 31 Dec 09

Garran, Curtin, Forrest and Chapman Primary Schools all have good names. My daughter went to Garran for about three years and I was sorry to leave it.

I believe Holder and Waramanga Primary are pretty good too in the Weston Creek area. Chapman is also in this area. I have a few friends with kids in these schools who are very happy.

Steiner School is also in Weston if you want an alternative choice.

emd emd 9:45 am 31 Dec 09

Oh, and if you need both pre-school and primary school, check the PEA for both. We are in a suburb where our PEA primary school is co-located with a pre-school, but we are not in the PEA for the pre-school – our PEA pre-school is two suburbs north of our PEA primary school. Which is a sh*t of a thing, because both the PEA primary and pre-schools let out at 3pm, there isn’t a bus from the PEA primary school to our suburb, so I would somehow have to be in two suburbs at once to drive the kids home. Needless to say, we’re not being a good little “go to your PEA school” family.

emd emd 9:42 am 31 Dec 09

begbie01 said :

Hi all,
Thanks for the quick responses. I will clarify “canberra”
I was thinking in the Belconnen District or perhaps Weston Creek or Woden Valley Areas.
I know that covers many suburbs, sorry that I can’t be more specific at this point in time.
However I was also thinking that a Gov School would suffice.

cheers,

You will need to look carefully at the Priority Enrolment Area zones when deciding where to live. There are now suburbs in Canberra with no public school within walking distance, and no bus either – which is a problem for families that can’t drive the kids to school every day.

In the Woden area, these are the ones I looked at this year…
Arawang Primary (in Waramanga, a suburb bordering Woden and Weston areas) looks great. Smaller than some of the other primary schools, but still with a really nice parent community.
Torrens Primary is a very traditional-style school culture.
Mawson Primary has a bilingual Chinese language program, and has a Chinese language pre-school nearby too.
Farrer Primary is a nice smaller school with a friendly culture, but the buildings are a bit run-down.
Hughes Primary is a great school, they have lots of English as a second language programs and a very friendly, multi-cultural community.
Garran Primary is another great school, bigger than Hughes. They have a new environment program, and run programs for gifted & talented and kids with learning difficulties.
Curtin Primary is another school similar in size to Garran, and has programs for gifted & talented and kids with learning difficulties.
Lyons is an early childhood centre – pre-school to Year 2. Which means your child needs to move in Year 3 to a P-6 school.
Yarralumla Primary School (inner south, next suburb north of Curtin) has a bi-lingual Italian program and is now one of the smallest schools in Canberra.

HTH.

housebound housebound 8:40 pm 30 Dec 09

#18 – Latham is a well-kept secret (well, it was). Definitely worth a try if you can’t get a house close to Maribyrnong.

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