When it comes to education, there are three things worth knowing if you are an expat parent moving your family to Sydney.
First, the southern hemisphere school year runs from the end of January to mid-December. If you are relocating from the other half of the planet, there may not be an ideal time to move, from an educational point of view.
Second, there are no US or British curricula schools in Sydney, according to ISC, the consultancy. This is not necessarily a problem for English-speaking families; not only is the globally recognised international baccalaureate available fairly widely, some of the local schools — state and private — are worth considering, too. There are some good non-selective state schools, where, from 2018/19, expat pupils will pay no more than A$6,200 (roughly $5,000) in tuition.
Finally, expat pupils who graduate from the Australian school system should find their qualifications recognised by universities globally. School leavers are issued with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (Atar), which admissions tutors convert into the equivalent local grades.
Learn The International French School of Sydney was founded in the late 1960s and moved to its current, two-hectare site in the eastern suburb of Marouba in 2003. A project is under way to modernise the campus and increase pupil headcount from 850 to 1,350 by 2020. Students — boys and girls aged three to 18 — are drawn from more than 20 nations. Sixty per cent of them are French or French-Australian. French baccalaureate results are decent: this year, final-year students averaged 16/20. Scores of 16 and above gain the top, assez bien ranking.
Results for the international baccalaureate, which is also offered and taught in English, were less good. In 2017, the nine students who sat the IB diploma achieved an average score of 29.95/45, roughly equalling the global mean. The academic year runs from mid-August to June, easing transfer to and from northern hemisphere schools.
Pay* A$18,323/$14,570 (A$20,409/$16,227 for IB students)
Live A five-bedroom house close to Coogee Beach is fewer than 10 minutes’ drive from the school.
Available through Phillips Pantzer Donnelley, A$2.65m-A$2.85m ($2.12m-$2.27m)
Learn Redlands has offered the IB diploma alongside the national Australian curriculum for 29 years. The school claims this is “longer than any other school in New South Wales”. In 2016, 59 of the 69 students who sat the IB diploma scored at least 37/45. The coeducational, all-through school is based on two campuses a short walk apart in Cremorne, a neighbourhood roughly 2km north of Sydney Harbour. It is a good option for parents keen to avoid the expat bubble: four out of five of the school’s 1,700 pupils are Australian. That said, its international students hail from more than 30 countries and Redlands stresses its readiness to admit children from families temporarily posted to Sydney.
Pay A$44,350 ($35,251)
Live A four-bedroom, semi-detached house in Neutral Bay is within walking distance of the school.
Available through Belle Property, A$2.7m ($2.1m)
Learn Given the absence of UK and US curricula schools in Sydney, parents seeking an English-language education might consider the extremely popular Cherrybrook Technology High School. Cherrybrook — the outer suburb from which it takes its name — is around 30km north-west of the central business district. Temporary visa holders must seek the school’s permission before enrolling, but once granted, international students follow the same admissions process as Australians.
The school’s 2,020 pupils work towards their high school certificate and there is a “gifted and talented” programme for especially able students. In 2016, more than 100 final-year students received commendable Atar scores of at least 90/100.
Pay* A$6,200/$4,928 (applies to temporary resident visa holders in New South Wales, 2018/19)
Live The school accepts applications from a tight catchment area. It includes Bowen Close, where number 19 — a four-bedroom house — is to let.
Available through Louis Carr Real Estate, A$1,250 ($994) a week.
Something different Kinma primary school in Terrey Hills, a north Sydney suburb, promotes “child-centred learning” for four to 13-year-olds. The progressive school encourages free play and non-competitiveness by using “assessment rather than testing”. A plus for expat parents is that pupils can join at any time during the school year. Fees are A$2,235 ($1,776) per term.
*Fees typically increase as the child moves up the school. The figure given is the cost of annual tuition for final-year students, and does not include additional payments such as registration fees.
Photographs: Chu-wen Lin/Dreamstime; Mariagroth/Dreamstime