If you have decided on moving to Melbourne, one of the few things you need to think about is the education of your children. Schools are a serious business in Melbourne, which means there’s a wealth of information available to parents of would-be Melbourne school children. So much in fact that it can be difficult to know where to start.

This guide aims to give a broad overview of how the school system works in Melbourne to help you acclimatise and provide the groundwork for you to dig into the details of specific schools by yourself once you move to Australia.

Public schools in Melbourne

Schooling in Australia is the responsibility of the states and territories. In Melbourne that responsibility lies with the Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. It provides public schooling from Kindergarten (Year 0), through primary school (Years 1-6) to high-school (Years 7-12).

Each child with permanent residence in Melbourne is guaranteed a place at their local school, but it is also possible to apply to schools in whose enrolment area you do not live. Each school has its own criteria when judging whether to accept out-of-area applications.

In either case applications are made direct to the school in question via an appointment.

Enrolling in public school

  • Kindergarten – you can apply for the coming school year if your child turns four on or before 30th April of that year.
  • Primary school – you can apply to enrol your child in the coming year if they turn five on or before 31st July of that year. You can enrol your child in primary school up to the age of ten.
  • High school – you can apply to enrol your child in high school from the age of eleven to sixteen.

Remember that the school year in Australia runs from late-January to mid-December.

All public schools in Melbourne require that children wear school uniforms, and that primary school children have hats in the summer to protect them from the sun.

Public school fees

While public schooling is ostensibly free in Victoria most schools request voluntary contributions from parents towards the cost of schooling. While voluntary in theory schools can apply significant pressure to parents to collect fees which sometimes amount to over $1,000 AUD per annum.

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Private schools in Melbourne

There are hundreds of private schools in Melbourne, a large number of which are Catholic schools which are partially state funded. These schools are by far the cheapest option when it comes to private schooling. Tuition fees at these school typically amount to around $3,000 AUD per year.

For non-Catholics there are still a large number of independent schools to choose from – both faith-based and secular.

Independent schools in Melbourne

Independent schools, like public schools, are frequently graded and compared using official statistics. Those which achieve the highest ratings often charge tuition fees of up to $25,000 AUD per year in addition to which there are often extra charges for enrolment, extracurricular activities and field trips.

You can expect boarding costs roughly equivalent to tuition fees.

International schools in Melbourne

There are at least a dozen schools offering the International Baccalaureate in Melbourne. The most centrally located is probably the Sophia Mundi Steiner School, a co-ed, non-denominational school with two associated primaries and which charges tuition fees of between $15,000 AU and $26,000 AUD per year.

Now that you have an idea of where your children should go to school, take a look at our guide on the best places to live in Melbourne.