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Canberra Private/public debate on seconday schools

By hjam 8 October 2010 21

Hi

I am in the processes of considering a move to Canberra from Melbourne with my husband that is from Canberra, but out of touch with schools (as of course they change over the years). I have a daughter and a son that are to enter high school (one in high school when we plan to move) and I would love some feedback as to what public schools are good, and the process to getting them in and what private schools are worth the money. We would like to facilitate the public school option, but we have little knowledge in this area.

Any help would be fantastic!


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Canberra Private/public debate on seconday schools
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2604 12:54 am 09 Oct 10

Hjam, Radford has over 7000 children on its waiting list. Many have been on the list since birth. So, your chances of getting your kids in there are pretty slim at this stage.

For public high schools, if you are thinking of living in or near Woden, Alfred Deakin High is close and is highly rated. Melrose High also has quite a good name. Lyneham High and Telopea are the other most highly thought of public high schools, tho you’d be out of area for them. Unfortunately, ACT public high schools generally seem to be blighted by poor leadership and low levels of community and parental involvement, as well as a current teacher shortage. I really do feel for the classroom teachers in these schools, some of them are teaching huge classes of needy kids with zero parental help and no leadership from their principals and vice principals.

As for private, Marist is in Woden and is supposed to be okay. St Edmunds was a known bogan haven when I was at high school, but may have improved. Girls Grammar has sky-high fees but gets good academic results. Sorry, but don’t know enough about St Clare’s or Merici to help you with them.

Good luck and welcome to Canberra.

clueless70 10:33 pm 08 Oct 10

Hello Hjam.

I would love some feedback as to … what private schools are worth the money.

No private schools are ‘worth the money’ unless what one expects in return for the money is something unrelated to education. No-one has made a more accurate and devastating critique of the social class relations embodied by private schooling than Shane Maloney and I will let his words speak further for me. http://shanemaloney.com/articles-and-speeches/post/an-invitation-to-scotch-college

watto23 7:53 pm 08 Oct 10

While I find it difficult to think anyone could make this summarisation, a rational explanation may be parents putting their kids into private school because they aren’t performing well in public school. This works for some kids and not for others.

My nephew was transferred to a private school, but the real issue is her mother and not him. She just doesn’t care where he is and what he does and he is not even 10!!

A flip side I found that at university, children educated in private schools had a greater difficulty adjusting to university.

As another poster said any child will get a good education if they want to have a good education and their parents support them.

shadow boxer said :

I can only offer an observation from having four kids at a mid range private school.

Each year a number of kids come across from the public system and it would be fair to say they are usually 12-18 months behind in their schoolwork if they come across in years 6-8.

Obviously this is a huge generalisation and a whole number of variables are at play but that is what I have observed.

Gerry-Built 2:06 pm 08 Oct 10

Jethro said :

[A bit of exposure to people from different cultural or economic backgrounds would be a positive in my book.

Which I am 100% confident they will get where I am/will send them…

The spoilt attitude of which you speak comes mainly from home in my experience, just as brat-ish behaviour does. Balance, I s’pose…

Gerry-Built 1:59 pm 08 Oct 10

lumnock said :

Do you also try and minimise who your children socialise with outside of school?

I probably didn’t answer this questing clearly enough…

No. But I would if I decided a particular child was “undesirable” in my families opinion, and probably my own personal opinion. At least as long as that is practicable. By then, I would hope I have instilled enough of an ability to decide appropriateness of particular friends for themselves. However, I would *always* discuss my concerns with my children, at any age.

shadow boxer 1:50 pm 08 Oct 10

hjam said :

Thank you for the information so far!

We are in Canberra soon to check out a few schools. We were unable to have a tour with Radford as they only do tours on their ‘tour dates’, but we are interested as the price point is quite good and it is co-ed which is also a positive, but we would be putting in applications blindly – plus they mentioned they have a large waiting list.

So far we are looking at Canberra girls grammar – for our daughter(although the fees scare me), St Edmunds and possibly Merici. I have heard mixed reviews from those that used to go to school in Canberra – although 20 years ago, so I assume that things have changed.

What is St Clares like?

Does anyone have any feedback as to these particular schools?

We are also loooking at houses in Woden, so I will have a look at PEA area maps to see what is available. If we can find a ‘good match’ public school that would be great!

I agree that the voluntary contributions are very challenging, I am currently on the school council for our childrens primary school and I think we are luckier than most that we are get the majority of parents contributing.

I would not call our children fantastically academic, they get reasonable marks. So we are after schools that are more ‘extra curricular’ based. Our son loves footy, cricket, rugby really all sports and plays trumpet and our daughter is very sporty (basketball & swimming), but loves ballet (fifth year) and plays the violin. So a school that does not break the bank and is a good balance…do they exist?

Thank you all for the feedback so far, I really appreciate it!

If you can afford Radford no school in Canberra will be beyond your reach. St Edmonds is a strong Rugby Union and sporting school, Merici is a mid-high range academic school producing good results, Radford has strong music and academic focus with some limited sports. Burgman anglican school is a mid-high range social and academically focussed school with limited sports. Grammar is largely academic. I dont know anything about St Clares.

Radford is probably your best option but I think they have a long waiting list. In the public schools Lyneham is very well thought of.

Gerry-Built 1:40 pm 08 Oct 10

lumnock said :

I’m curious Gerry why you want to seperate/minimise the exposure to ‘brats’ in the Public system? Do you also try and minimise who your children socialise with outside of school? I am genuinely asking, and not being facetious. Seems to me, that try as you might, your children are going to have numerous interactions with kids from all socio environments, and minimising it is only going to make the experiences more impactful when they do.

I’m more worried about the interruptions to normal class time from trying to control kids that have no interest in being there, but great interest in their social life and “who did what to who” on the weekend… and those who think normal disagreements include telling their teacher to f-off for asking them politely to follow class/school rules… I can tell you from personal experience that the result for that is more severe in a Private school than a Public one…

Jethro 1:35 pm 08 Oct 10

switch said :

Gerry-Built said :

Personally, as a teacher in the Public System, my children are enrolled in the Private system, … [snippety do-dah].

Quite a common occurrence, I notice. Great confidence in the public system?

I have worked in both systems.

My children will be getting educated through the public system.

The private system tends to breed spoilt brats with an inflated sense of self worth and a lack of empathy for those different to them. A bit of exposure to people from different cultural or economic backgrounds would be a positive in my book.

Gerry-Built 1:35 pm 08 Oct 10

switch said :

Gerry-Built said :

Personally, as a teacher in the Public System, my children are enrolled in the Private system, … [snippety do-dah].

Quite a common occurrence, I notice. Great confidence in the public system?

No – Public System is fantastic… the brats are not…

hjam 1:28 pm 08 Oct 10

Thank you for the information so far!

We are in Canberra soon to check out a few schools. We were unable to have a tour with Radford as they only do tours on their ‘tour dates’, but we are interested as the price point is quite good and it is co-ed which is also a positive, but we would be putting in applications blindly – plus they mentioned they have a large waiting list.

So far we are looking at Canberra girls grammar – for our daughter(although the fees scare me), St Edmunds and possibly Merici. I have heard mixed reviews from those that used to go to school in Canberra – although 20 years ago, so I assume that things have changed.

What is St Clares like?

Does anyone have any feedback as to these particular schools?

We are also loooking at houses in Woden, so I will have a look at PEA area maps to see what is available. If we can find a ‘good match’ public school that would be great!

I agree that the voluntary contributions are very challenging, I am currently on the school council for our childrens primary school and I think we are luckier than most that we are get the majority of parents contributing.

I would not call our children fantastically academic, they get reasonable marks. So we are after schools that are more ‘extra curricular’ based. Our son loves footy, cricket, rugby really all sports and plays trumpet and our daughter is very sporty (basketball & swimming), but loves ballet (fifth year) and plays the violin. So a school that does not break the bank and is a good balance…do they exist?

Thank you all for the feedback so far, I really appreciate it!

shadow boxer 12:53 pm 08 Oct 10

Kerryhemsley said :

shadow boxer said :

I can only offer an observation from having four kids at a mid range private school.

Each year a number of kids come across from the public system and it would be fair to say they are usually 12-18 months behind in their schoolwork if they come across in years 6-8.

Obviously this is a huge generalisation and a whole number of variables are at play but that is what I have observed.

Are you also a teacher at that school? If not you seem to have an intimate knoeledge of the skills and ability of all the new new kids in years 6 to 8. I am just baffled as to how you would have the information to make the assessment they are 12 to 18 months behind.

No i’m not a teacher but I know a few at the school, they run special programs to bring them up to speed, this happens fairly quickly but it’s hard work for the kids.

It mainly happens in middle school years 6, 7 and 8 and isn’t a huge deal as the kids are spread across those years on ability rather than age and they move through the ranks pretty fast.

switch 12:47 pm 08 Oct 10

Gerry-Built said :

Personally, as a teacher in the Public System, my children are enrolled in the Private system, … [snippety do-dah].

Quite a common occurrence, I notice. Great confidence in the public system?

lumnock 12:36 pm 08 Oct 10

I’m curious Gerry why you want to seperate/minimise the exposure to ‘brats’ in the Public system? Do you also try and minimise who your children socialise with outside of school? I am genuinely asking, and not being facetious. Seems to me, that try as you might, your children are going to have numerous interactions with kids from all socio environments, and minimising it is only going to make the experiences more impactful when they do.

Gerry-Built 12:15 pm 08 Oct 10

Public Schools in Canberra generally have priority enrollment areas and, especially for the ‘better schools’ (Telopea, Campbell, Lyneham etc) the schools only provide for students in that area, such is demand. PEA Area Maps.

The standard of education is likely to be similar across all public schools, with the only difference in the type of extra-curricular focus, structure and electives offered. There are likely to be awful kids and awful teachers in every public school, just as there will be great teachers and great students at every public school…

Given that you have posted a request for information, chances are you are already an ‘involved parent’, so the likelihood of success in a school is already a higher prospect than for a great number of public school children…

Have a look at some of the schools, especially in PEAs you would likely consider, post them later in this post and the Hive Mind at RA can give you more specific info/feedback.

Personally, as a teacher in the Public System, my children are enrolled in the Private system, mainly because I know what (the small number of) the brats are like in the Public System – and I want my kids to have limited exposure to some of those society presents us with (those that wouldn’t last in the private system and end up in Public Schools as a result). Additionally, as a teacher of mainly elective subjects, I know I (and all other parents) will be *expected* to pay elective subject levies, but in the public system, the so-called “Voluntary Contributions” are paid by very few families – which directly affects students’ access to up-to-date and well maintained equipment and materials (which the ACT Government chooses not to properly fund).

Kerryhemsley 11:48 am 08 Oct 10

shadow boxer said :

I can only offer an observation from having four kids at a mid range private school.

Each year a number of kids come across from the public system and it would be fair to say they are usually 12-18 months behind in their schoolwork if they come across in years 6-8.

Obviously this is a huge generalisation and a whole number of variables are at play but that is what I have observed.

Are you also a teacher at that school? If not you seem to have an intimate knoeledge of the skills and ability of all the new new kids in years 6 to 8. I am just baffled as to how you would have the information to make the assessment they are 12 to 18 months behind.

georgesgenitals 10:27 am 08 Oct 10

In Canberra, the primary schools and colleges seem quite good, but the high schools not so much. Of course, the age of the kids probably has a lot to do with that.

Canberra has a number of reasonably priced private schools, which to me seem good value. Of course, it depends on the kid, and what their needs are. Public schools work quite well for some.

shadow boxer 10:20 am 08 Oct 10

I can only offer an observation from having four kids at a mid range private school.

Each year a number of kids come across from the public system and it would be fair to say they are usually 12-18 months behind in their schoolwork if they come across in years 6-8.

Obviously this is a huge generalisation and a whole number of variables are at play but that is what I have observed.

lumnock 10:00 am 08 Oct 10

I would disagree DeadlyShanauzer, and say that the MySchool website is actualy a bad place to start. It does not take into account a vast array of factors that contribute to a quality education for students, and narrows perceptions of what schools should deliver. I could go on and on, but suffice to say that it does not deliver anywhere close to a fair evaluation of any school.

DeadlySchnauzer 9:56 am 08 Oct 10

I assume you know about this http://www.myschool.edu.au/. Can’t recommend any specific schools, but thats a good starting point.

More generally Canberra is a bit of a pain. It has relatively few private schools and the demand for them is high, so there are long waiting lists, entrance exams etc.

On the other hand there are some really good public schools around, but demand for them is also high, and due to the catchment system you generally will only get in if you live in the same suburb as the high school.

grundy 9:48 am 08 Oct 10

Public system is great here.

Having been through the NSW system, then 11/12 in ACT, the system here is quite good.
As for schools, I went to LTC. (Lake Tuggeranong College)
It was suited to what I wanted to continue working with/studying in future, such as IT, Multimedia, 3D/CAD.
That was 10 years ago now, so maybe some more recent students/parents will have some up-to-date opinions.

If you want to get into the public colleges/highschools, I believe you have to live within the area around the school to gain enrolment, but this also might have changed?…

Good luck!

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