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Best Primary Schools in Canberra

By Emily Morris 27 July 2017 38

Primary Schools in the ACT

This has been updated for July 2017 

We all want to give our children the best opportunities in life and this often starts with a good education. While the best education always starts at home, choosing a primary school that is going to give your child every opportunity to learn and thrive is undoubtedly important.

While the criteria for the ‘best primary school’ is very subjective most parents will generally consider a range of factors, including whether they would prefer a private or public education for their child, the schools available in their location, the academic record of the school and the anecdotal experiences reported by other parents.

This updated post aims to consolidate a range of information and feedback received from the previous post into a more easily digestible format to help other parents who are trying to determine what the ideal school for their child may be.

Private vs Public

The decision to send your child to a private or public school is largely a matter of personal preference. If you’re looking for a school with a specific set of values, ethos, focus or extracurricular options, private or independent schooling may be for you. However, you would need to be pretty passionate about the reasons you select the school to justify the hefty fees you’re going to be up for.

For example, to send your child to Brindabella Christian College it will cost a little over $4,600 per year for junior school (years 1-4), Burgmann Anglican School will set you back $7,900 per annum, Canberra Girls Grammar School fees start from a little over $13,800 for prep and continue to increase as your child progresses, or Canberra Grammar School starts from a little over $15,800 per year for primary school.

While you will still be up for some school fees if you take the public primary schooling route, they will be minimal in comparison to most private or independent schooling fees.

Priority Enrolment Areas

If you decide to pursue the public schooling option, where you live will play a significant role in the school options you can select from because of Priority Enrolment Areas (PEA’s).

Because public schools in ACT are non-selective, each school will give enrolment priority to students living in its PEA so it’s important to check your available options before falling in love with an out-of-PEA school where there is no guarantee your child will be accepted.

Academic Record

The academic record of the school may also be an important factor for you in selecting the best primary school for your child.

According to Better Education, a school directory and information website that compares the academic and other results across schools Australia-wide, the following Primary Schools in Canberra we’re the highest-ranking schools receiving an overall score of 90 or more in 2016.

Top Primary Schools in Canberra – 2016

School Score English Maths Enrolments Locality
Garran Primary School 100 5 5 562 Garran
Canberra Girls’ Grammar School 100 5 5 1472 Deakin
Radford College 99 5 5 1567 Bruce
Canberra Grammar School 99 4 5 1600 Red Hill
Emmaus Christian School 98 5 5 286 Dickson
Hawker Primary School 97 5 5 335 Hawker
Weetangera Primary School 97 5 5 385 Weetangera
Brindabella Christian College 97 5 4 791 Lyneham
Telopea Park School 97 5 4 1358 Barton
Turner School 96 5 4 509 Turner

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

Anecdotal Feedback

While price, location and performance are all likely to play a part in your decision-making process, so is anecdotal feedback from other parents who have had a particular experience with a school.

Here is a summary of some of the primary schools recommended by other parents in response to the 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 primaryCharnwood 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 & 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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38 Responses to
Best Primary Schools in Canberra
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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…

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 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 1:41 pm 05 Jan 10

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

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 2:54 pm 02 Jan 10

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

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 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 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 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.

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

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 9:45 pm 31 Dec 09

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

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 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 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 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 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.

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