11 July 2012

Primary schools near Bruce?

| groovymumma
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Hi rioters. We are moving to Canberra shortly for work. I will be working in Bruce and my hubby will be in the Parliamentary Triangle.

We are planning to live near my work – somewhere like Bruce, Kaleen or Aranda. My main concern is to find a school for my eldest (starts Kindergarten next year) and childcare for my youngest (2 years old). I have read lots of old posts on this topic on the RiotAct (very useful, thanks everyone) and I am also aware of the Priority Placement Areas. My plan is to try to find a school that suits us and then rent accordingly.

Schools that I have heard of are Kaleen PS, Maribrynong PS, Aranda PS and Macquarie PS. I have toured one, will tour two more, and one won’t let me have a look until we are already living in the area (??). Does anyone have any personal experience with any of these schools? My kids are more likely to be academic than sporty, if you know what I mean. Or are there other schools you would recommend (private could be okay but we are not on any waiting lists)? Also, any personal experiences with childcare centres near Bruce or near Parliament would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for helping out a newbie.

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Hi Groovymumma! Three years on I’m trying to make the same decision you posted about here! What did you decide? Any tips or wisdom to share given you’re a few years along the journey now? Thanks 🙂

In regards to child care in the Parliamentary Triangle if you or your partner work for Department of Finance and Deregulation or The Department of Treasury you can apply for priority childcare at Abacus Child Care and Education Centre. http://child-care.commsatwork.org/abacus-child-care-and-education-centre

Welcome to Canberra. We live in Kaleen, two of my children attended Totom House Multicultural Childcare Centre and all three now attend Kaleen Primary. The youngest will be in kindergarten next year as well. Firstly if you are looking for a great suburb to live in Kaleen is right up there, it is close to Belconnen Mall and the swimming pools and other sports and social facilities that Belconnen offers, it is also close to Dickson and China Town and still only a short drive from the growing centre of Gungahlin. Within Kaleen there are 3 excellent primary schools, two childcare centres, one high school, two shopping areas and a 24 hour service station. We have been very happy here Kaleen and it is full of bike paths, playgrounds and parks.

It has been a couple of years since we left Totom but we were happy with our time there. They do have a waiting list like all centres. They are a not-for-profit centre so were slightly cheaper than some other centres (or used to be). The other centre is Kaleen Cubby House which is not long day care but it might work for you. We never used it but I know plenty that have with no bad reports.

Kaleen Primary has been an excellent school for my children will feel extremely lucky that such an outstanding school is on our doorstep. They do have a Gifted & Talent program and one class, of three, in each year group is the extension class. That being said the mainstream classes are full of bright children too and the schools oozes academic achievement. For my children there has never been any teasing they have the attitude that it is cool to be smart. The school also competes very well in many sports, have a great robotics program, excels at Chess and have both in school and extracurricular theater programs. There is an instrumental music program which starts in year 5. The principal, Grace Dunlop has just celebrated 20 years as principal and was ACT Principal of the year 2 years ago. The other senior staff are excellent, supportive and experienced. We have a great P&C which meets monthly and is well attended and involved. Only downside I can say is that great results have brought an influx in enrollments and most of the classes are oversubscribed and there is a waiting list to get in. When we started all the class had 18 to 21 children per class, now they all have 25 plus. The most recent newsletter (which can be read on line at the website) says we are already oversubscribed with enrollments for 2013.

Maribynong and St Michael are also good schools that offer different things but are also achieving great results. As I understand Bruce will be included in Maribyrnongs PET as off 2013. Kaleen and Aranda work closely together and I understand it is a lovely school.

You can’t really go wrong with any of the school you are looking at

Hope that is helpful.

I agree with previous commenters that all the schools you mention are good schools. My youngest (academically inclined and not sporty) had a year at Aranda when we moved to Canberra, and we were very happy. It’s a high achieving school with a hard working staff and an involved bunch of families. I am in the education system and have heard positive things about all the schools you mention. It’s a good part of town to be in, lots of great primary schools. My kids went on to Canberra High, which is very popular at the moment and I am happy with. For some reason Kaleen High is struggling to retain students and has become very small. Not sure why.
I am a bit wary of the childcare centre in Aranda, conversely have heard good things about the centre near Macquarie shops. Good luck finding a home and childcare – finding a good primary school is the easy part of the equation!

I have heard both Kaleen schools are good.

Unfortunately Canberra has a ‘childcare crisis’ and your chances of getting a place anywhere in the entire city before Dec/Jan/Feb are slim to none.

I can’t help you with school (we aren’t at that stage yet) but can with childcare.

I have friends who use the childcare centre at Kaleen shops and like it.

As for the Parl Triangle there are a few pricey options. APH has a centre which is awesome but only caters up to 3 years and is currently at capacity. You could put ypour name on the wiating list and you might get lucky.
There is a good centre attached to Forrest Primary, Dept of Finance has a centre which I wouldn’t go near at all and there is privatly run centre in Barton (Little Nest I think it’s called?)

To be frank though, you have to put your name down everywhere and hope you get a place somewhere. People put their babies on waiting lists as soon as they get that positive pregnancy test and still don’t always get places when they need them. Mid year entries are also harder, January is the best time to get a place

Wow! Thanks so much to all the posters who have taken the time to provide genuine feedback about their schools. It sounds like you have great schools in the ACT. Feeling very encouraged now.

Hi, all public primary schools in the area are great. There are also some wonderful catholic primary schools in the area as well, St Michaels in Kaleen and St Vincent’s in Aranda, and they feed into the catholic high schools – Daramalan and St Francis are co-ed and Merici is girls only. All have excellent reputations. The other private schools are Radford and Burgmann – big waiting lists, Brindabella and Blue Gum – independent Christian. There is also Steiner and Montessori in holder if you prefer. Good luck, the only advice I would pass on is think of the high school as well, it helps in regards to transport, friends and courses offered. When you are looking at primary schools, high schools are a long way off but the kids grow up quickly! The ACT education website lists all private and public schools in the ACT – Good luck. PS I may be biased but Giralang is good too and there is a great child care centre coming to the suburb in the old preschool building.

I have 2 Children at Maribrynong. It is a fantastic little school with just over I think 200 kids. Yes new Principal this year but has been the assistant there for quite some time. (And yes she is the youngest Principal in the ACT)

As I said I have 2 children and one of them is in the LSU which is a fantastic little class with a wonderful and aides.

My other child is in the enrichment program for both Reading and Maths.

I have know most of the teachers at the school (one of my children is about to go into High school) . They are in my opinion all fantastic and easy to communicate with. The teachers that are there have been there for quite some time and seem happy.

I would recommend this school to anyone.

Not sure about the other schools but my friend had her kids in Kaleen Primary as it had a great extension program and a really good reputation. She liked it.

The schools in Canberra are zoned and if a school is having enrollment pressure they will not consider you unless you are in the area (and can prove it with mail drivers lic etc) or qualify for a specific program with them. Hope that helps. Not sure where you are coming from but on the whole ACT schools are fairly good so if you pick a good suburb the school with generally be pretty good too.

Parkway Parker5:21 pm 11 Jul 12

+2 for Holden and sneaker’s comments on hubby.

Nice way to be welcoming guys.

I have heard good things about Aranda, Florey and Miles Franklin (in Evatt).

Aranda is probably the nicest suburb (although I’m going to guess some of the rental properties in the suburb could be a bit old and run down) and has the quickest access to Bruce and the Parliamentary triangle and is close to the Jamison Centre.

Elizabethany5:06 pm 11 Jul 12

In terms of primary schools, it is best to have a chat to them and see which is the best fit, but in general at primary level they are all reasonably good. If you are planning on being here for a long time then consider which schools are feeder to the better high schools, but you can always move in 5 years to get to the right catchment.

Childcare is more of a problem. Pretty much apply to ALL of the providers in the area where you can live with them being (say belconnen and the city), including centres, YWCA family care, empolyer provided care etc, and then ring them EVERY week to remind them you exist and that you still want a place. Since the youngest is 2, it will be a bit easier than for a newborn, but it is still especially difficult to get childcare.

sneakers said :

I’m with Holden on this one, and would also like to add “Yummy Mummy” or any derivatives thereof to the filter.

Change it to ‘flirty girty’ and it’ll never be seen again.

Our children attend Kaleen PS. We’re happy so far!

As well as Florey, another of my kids spent 3 years at Kaleen Primary, and I always thought it was an exceptional school, and very focused on academic achievement. The principal of the time (may have changed) was a marvellous woman.

shirty_bear said :

Maybe a little out of your range, but we’ve been happy at Florey PS. We’re out of zone (through a weird quirk of zone boundaries) but they made an effort to accommodate us (some 6-odd years ago, so the people pulling the strings have changed).

Not much clue re. childcare. We used to used YMCA at Jamison Centre (Macquarie) a little bit and the boy loved it there.

+1 on Florey Primary. I’ve had three kids go through there, and they’ve all had good experiences.

I was part of the parent work crew that put up the giant shade structure over the basketball court back around 2001. It’ll be sad when my youngest finishes at the end of the year and I won’t be going back to see that any more. It’s the best piece of trades-type work I’ve ever done, especially compared to my efforts around the home. 🙂

Hi Groovymumma,

Some anecdotal opinions of the schools you mentioned from a local chalkie.

Kaleen – Uber popular school at the moment, kicking a lot of goals. I believe they have a G&T class for each grade other than kindy and although philosophically I’m not sure how I feel about this setup the community has responded very favourably. As a result it will quite possibly be hard for you to get your kids in unless you’re living in area.

Maribrynong – Different side of the spectrum from Kaleen, much smaller school with possibly (again just my opinion) a nicer “little school” feel. New Principal this year, who I believe is the youngest in ACT and I’ve heard great things about her. Not quite as affluent a population base as Kaleen, but still a lovely, small community school.

Macquarie – Don’t know as much about Macquarie, other than that the Principal, Wendy Cave, is really lovely and great to work for. Similar demographic to Maribrynong I believe.

Aranda – This would be my choice, that is if you end up living over near Aranda or Macquarie rather than Kaleen. From what I’ve heard a great school with a very involved, supportive community. The school has some brand spanking new buildings and has pretty high academic expectations, which sounds like it might suit your kids.

Anyway there’s my 2 cents. Obviously all just my own semi-informed opinion.

Good luck and welcome to Canberra.

My children attended Kaleen Primary School for 3 years (2006-2008) and it was brilliant for them. Kaleen is one of the only schools northside to offer an academic extension programme – if a child has aptitude (keep in mind a parent’s view of their child’s ability is often over inflated).

My younger child was in the G&T (gifted and talented) class for years 2 and 3; my older child for years 4, 5 and 6 (she told me that she was still teased for being ‘odd’, but at least at Kaleen the entire class was teased).

Having said that, my kids had friends who didn’t enjoy the experience there, so whilst my kids loved it there, it doesn’t mean that yours will.

Be guided by your gut instinct from when you visit the school.

Don’t forget that the ACT has a priority enrolment area, if you out of the area for a school, your child can only get in if the school has a place available.

Good luck!

I’m with Holden on this one, and would also like to add “Yummy Mummy” or any derivatives thereof to the filter.

Good call, Holden!

As for the O/T – I have no idea. Sorry. I’m a staunch advocate of birth control 🙂

Maybe a little out of your range, but we’ve been happy at Florey PS. We’re out of zone (through a weird quirk of zone boundaries) but they made an effort to accommodate us (some 6-odd years ago, so the people pulling the strings have changed).

Not much clue re. childcare. We used to used YMCA at Jamison Centre (Macquarie) a little bit and the boy loved it there.

Holden Caulfield3:38 pm 11 Jul 12

Just wondering if RA can introduce a word filter for “hubby” … or am I the only one that cringes in embarrassment when I see that word?

Anyway, I went to Donald Duck in Aranda and thought it was ace. Although, that was a few decades ago now.

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