Education and schooling in Brisbane generally consist of government and non-government schools. Government schools are, in most cases, free, while non-government schools are fee-paying.
Expat families moving to Brisbane will find that international schooling options are limited, but since English is generally the medium of instruction in both public and private schools, English-speaking children should adjust relatively easily. Those with limited English proficiency should consider one of Brisbane's language-immersion schools if they offer the child's home language.
Government schools in Brisbane
Brisbane's public schools are funded by the government and most offer only the Australian curriculum. These generally don't charge tuition fees, but this may not be the case for expat families on temporary visas. In some cases, payment in the form of non-tuition fees may be required, but these still add up to far less than the cost of non-government schools.
Some government schools in the state of Queensland offer language immersion programmes, where at least 50 percent of the curriculum is completed in a foreign tongue. There are various schools, offering French, German, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Chinese immersion programmes.
Public schools are assigned according to catchment areas, so parents should keep this in mind when deciding which neighbourhood to settle in.
Government schools are reviewed at least once every four years by the Queensland Department of Education (QDE). Results are available on school websites. Self-assessments between QDE reviews are also mandatory.
Non-government schools in Brisbane
In Australia, non-government schools are fee-paying institutions that can be divided into two broad categories: private and independent. The term ‘private schools’ refers solely to fee-paying Catholic schools, while all other fee-paying schools are known as ‘independent schools’.
Independent schools have the freedom to take a more tailored approach to education than public ones. Some are based on religions such as Judaism, Islam and non-Catholic denominations of Christianity. Others employ alternative education philosophies, such as Waldorf or Montessori.
International schools in Brisbane
The only real option parents will have when it comes to international education in Queensland will be the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. There are a few government and non-government schools in Queensland that offer this as an option to their students. Note that, unlike most government schools, those offering the IB do charge fees in order to cover the cost of the programme.
Expat parents moving to Brisbane may find it useful to make themselves familiar with the QDE's international branch, known as Education Queensland International (EQI). EQI provides extra support for international students, particularly those who come from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
Tutoring in Brisbane
Tutors are widely used in Brisbane, particularly for complex subjects such as maths and science, to assist non-English students with English proficiency, help new arrivals catch up to the local curriculum, as well as for university preparation. For expats, hiring a tutor is a great way to ease their children's transition to a new education system.
There are a number of reputable tutors in the Brisbane area, including A Team Tuition and My Local Tutors.
Special-needs education in Brisbane
The Queensland Department of Education operates on the principle of inclusivity. Their ultimate aim is to ensure that those with special needs can comfortably attend their local school, have access to the same rich and varied education as their peers, learn in a safe environment free of bullying or harassment, and be able to make good academic and social progress.
►Accommodation in Brisbane has info about renting property
"We’ve found a fantastic school. We hadn’t intended on picking a private school, but so many people kept recommending this school so we decided to view it. We instantly knew it was the right school for us. It's important to do lots of research online before making the move, but nothing can replace the research you can do when you arrive." Read what British expat Karen has to say about family life in Brisbane.
Are you an expat living in Brisbane?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Brisbane. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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