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Education in Western Australia

The school system in Australia differs greatly from the UK and there is a mix of different schools in WA including, private and government. Private is a popular choice in Australia as it is a lot more affordable. The waiting list for private schools tend to be long so you need to get your child on the waiting list as soon as possible, some parents even do this from birth.

The Western Australian school year starts beginning of February and ends in the middle of December and is divided into 4 terms with the longest break being 7 weeks over the Christmas period (Australian summer)

Public school Term Dates 2017

Semester 1
Term 1 Wed 1 February – Fri 7 April

Term 2 Mon 24 April – Fri 30 June

Semester 2
Term 3 Mon 17 July – Fri 22 September

Term 4 Mon 9 October – Thurs 14 December

What year will your child start school?

The department of education website has a handy little school age calculator where you enter your child’s birth date and it tells you what year your child will start, Kindergarten, Pre-Primary and Year 1.

Calculate what year your child can start in education

From the age of 5 school is compulsory. Primary education operates from pre-primary through to year 6 and high school education from year 7 through to 12.

In 2013 the State Government made Pre-primary compulsory, which meant a guaranteed place for your child at a local school.

To enrol, you must take your child’s birth certificate, visa, immunisation records and proof of address with you to the school.

For more information and to find public schools in your area please visit

Much like the UK the government schools operate within a catchment area and these students will take priority along with those who have a sibling link. This will vary from suburb to suburb, as occasionally a school will offer places to children not within the catchment area.

NB – Although there are no fees for your children to attend government schools, you are required to buy your childs school books and stationary for the year (from approx. $60+) and you are also asked to make a ‘voluntary’ contribution starting at approx. $60+ per child.

Uniform in all government schools is compulsory and costs will vary depending on what items of uniform you purchase.

Fees for families on working visas

As of 2015 the Western Australian Government introduced a tuition fee for families on 457 Visas (temporary skilled workers) whose children attend public schools in this State. The fee is $4000 per family per year regardless of the number of children in each family who are enrolled in public schools.

More information on the new tuition fee can be found on the Government of Western Australia Education site

Private School Fees

All private schools charge fee’s ranging from approx. $2000 a year to $20,000+ per year and the waiting lists can be long. A lot of the private schools receive funding from local churches e.g Anglican and Catholic. Some secondary schools offer scholarships for students specialising in subjects such as music, art and sport.

Non Compulsory Schooling

There are numerous day-care centres throughout Perth who generally operate from 7am to 6pm where you can put your child in either half day or full day. A lot of day-care centres also offer before and after school care.

Fees are approximately $85+ per full day. Dependent on your income you may also be eligible for Child Care Benefit (CCB) this is calculated on your joint income and the government pay a percentage of the day-care fees. You may also be eligible to receive 50% of your out of pocket expenses for your fees. To get more information visit the Family Assist website

Please note you must provide evidence of your child’s immunisations when registering your child for any form of childcare including schooling and also when applying for CCB. We recommend asking your doctor to print out all your child’s immunisation records before you leave the UK.

All students starting Kindergarten are entitled to 15 hours of education per week, dependent on the school, this may be split out in different ways, for example: 3 full days one week and 2 full days the following week or 2 and a half days every week.  Every school is different so please speak direct to the school of your choice to find out their kindergarten day options.

Depending on your employment situation you may have to look at the before and after school care option. Private schools also offer schooling at kindy age where tuition fees will be applicable.


Pre Kindy

There is also a program called 3’s kindy where a child attends two 2 ½ hour sessions per week. These programs are generally run in community centres and it is a pre-cursor for kindy. As with day care fees are applicable.