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Canberra primary schools – what are they like?

By skiddy - 10 March 2010 15

Hello Canberrans – I’m about to move my family over from Perth and I’m flying blind when it comes to schools. I have 3 daughters and the first one will start school when we get there next year. I’d love to hear from parents about primary schools – are you happy? I’ve heard Canberra has the best schools but some posts on here suggest otherwise. I’d prefer a local govt school but I’d go Catholic too. What are the class sizes like? What are the teachers like? Can you “school shop” for a govt school? Opinions most appreciated!!

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15 Responses to
Canberra primary schools – what are they like?
JessP 9:18 am 12 Mar 10

Big places, small buildings, lots of kids 9am to 3pm.

Seriously, I have found Miles Franklin Primary (Gov school) in Evatt to be very good. Most schools seem to be good in Canberra because Canberra is a NICE place.

Jim Jones 8:19 am 12 Mar 10

Aurelius said :

Schools sink or swim depending on participation of their parental community.
So a relevant question is: what type of parent are you?

Talk to anyone in education and they’ll tell you that schools will sink or swim depending on the principal (particularly primary schools).

If you’re looking to move to a new school, or start students at a new school, I’d suggest making an appointment for a brief chat with the principal, as well as talking to parents of students already at the school. It’s really handy to know a few local teachers as well – that’s without doubt the best way to find out what’s going on in the education sector in Canberra.

skiddy 12:37 am 12 Mar 10

Thanks everyone for your help – this is a great site!
And Aurelius in answer to your question – I’m an awesome parent and I can’t wait to get involved at whatever school we’re at.

TAD 5:47 pm 11 Mar 10

Narrabundah was great, unfortunately most of the parents were crap.

Case in point, the school provided all students breakfast so they could learn as it was apparent the parents couldn’t be fcked.

grunge_hippy 3:50 pm 11 Mar 10

CraigT said :

I think the general rule is that public schools in the inner North, inner South and Woden Valley are excellent (now that Narrabundah Primary has closed).
In other areas the public schools are often a disaster and you will have to go with the Catholic system, despite the large class sizes.

yeah, just remember that those ‘bundah kids are now at those inner south schools.

I take offence to that comment. ‘bundah kids are awesome. so were their teachers!!!!

Aurelius 10:52 am 11 Mar 10

Schools sink or swim depending on participation of their parental community.
So a relevant question is: what type of parent are you?

taninaus 7:16 am 11 Mar 10

Catchments for schools usually include multiple suburbs and suburbs often have 2 schools to choose from. You can get a map of the catchment areas from the education website at http://www.det.act.gov.au . Be aware that catchments can change (as a friend in a weston creek suburb found last year) so double check before the move. Getting into out of area schools depends on a number of factors including capacity – priority goes to in catchment children, then only if there is room. Chapman is a popular and full school so don’t count on out of area for that one.

CraigT 7:06 am 11 Mar 10

I think the general rule is that public schools in the inner North, inner South and Woden Valley are excellent (now that Narrabundah Primary has closed).
In other areas the public schools are often a disaster and you will have to go with the Catholic system, despite the large class sizes.

realityskin 10:25 pm 10 Mar 10

Yes, you need to buy a house in a nice suburb, majority only take from feeder suburbs.

bd84 9:52 pm 10 Mar 10

The majority of public primary schools in Canberra are great. The schools that appear to struggle are normally those whose students come from a of lower socioeconomic background, and are generally found at the extremities of the city (i.e. far north or far south).

School shopping does happen here, but the students who live in the same or surrounding suburbs are automatic entries, but if the school has room they will normally allow enrolment.

Canberra has about 60/40 public/private students, mostly influenced by high school enrolments and that people here generally earn more than the average and can afford the fees.

spice 9:29 pm 10 Mar 10

As moneypenny wrote, there is generally a ‘catchment’ rule where children attend the school in their area. That said, there are always exceptions and I know of quite a few children who have started kindergarten this year as ‘out of area’ students, whether it be because of the convenience of the school to where the parents work or because the family are planning to move closer to the school in the future.

On the southside, I’ve heard that both Torrens and Chapman are excellent schools. Another important thing to keep in mind is whether the school in your area is earmarked for closure (Urambi Primary, for instance), in which case your local school would probably be a new format ‘super school’.

It really depends on where you want to base yourself. Although Canberra is small on capital city scale, you don’t want to be living far north and commuting too far south just because the school has decent NAPLAN results.

Good luck.

s-s-a 9:27 pm 10 Mar 10

Max class size at government schools at least to the end of year 2 is 22. I think this might have been extended to end of year 6 since the last ACT election.

My daughter is in year 1 at the local public, she started there for Preschool in 2008 and we are really happy with it.

I can’t remember what the WA system offers in terms of preschool (ie years prior to full-time school). Here we now have 15h/wk of Preschool which I think most schools are offering in two long days and a short day OR alternating weeks of two and three long days. All government preschools are now administered by adjacent (or nearby) public schools, so if your child is staying on there is no need to re-enrol for kindergarten.

Ceej1973 9:12 pm 10 Mar 10
saraj 8:52 pm 10 Mar 10

ah, a question for http://www.myschool.edu.au/ ….. no??!!

moneypenny 8:43 pm 10 Mar 10

You technically have to be within the feeder area for particular schools in Canberra although in certain circumstances can get in to out of area schools. But if you are looking Northside, Aranda pre school (Especially Gunas class) and primary school are excellent schools. My son has started at Aranda pre school three weeks ago and we are really happy with it, but we have family and friends who have gone to the public school and have all said great things about it. The educational programs and after school programs are great too. If you are looking for private schools try Radford – from the early learning centre to year 12 – it’s an anglican school and well resourced too.

As with any schools here though, check the surrounding suburbs out too – rentals can be difficult to get so start applying/ looking now.

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