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Starting children in school in Australia? And a million other moving questions!

(18 Posts)
PinotGreedy Fri 02-May-14 09:27:50

DH has been offered a position in Brisbane and we are now going through the practicalities. The timing of the move is likely to be Oct/Nov so we are wondering what to do about schools. DD is currently in UK Reception so will start Year 1 this September. DS will start Reception this September, although he is young for his year (Summer birthday).

So.. if we arrive in Aus October-ish what is the best thing to do about schooling? DH thinks we maybe shouldn't bother until the new school year starts in Jan/Feb (is this right?). I think they would be better having a couple of months in school, even if it is not the same school as they will go to longer term once we find a house and figure out where we're living. And is DS too young to start school there anyway?

Any help /suggestions from people who have moved school aged children to Aus?

BuntingintheSunshine Fri 02-May-14 09:56:19

What are DCs' birthdays? That would depend what year they would go into school and whether it's mandatory, my DC was older when we came over so I don't know about pre-primary/kindy organisation. The school year finishes mid December and goes back first week in Feb. I guess it depends how much DC like school, and how well they take the move - while it might be nice for them to go in for Xmas prep (although a warm/bloody hot Xmas is well weird) they might also like to stay close to home and do some fun things instead, if you're going to be SAHM at least in the first instance?

When you're looking where to base yourselves, check out the obvious stuff like commuting time (can be a long one, especially if you want to live near the beach - Sunshine/Gold Coast) and also whether the schools you're looking at have air conditioning throughout. It might seem (and be!) a long way away but look at secondary schools in the area too - in WA we found primary schools were generally pretty good, but secondary schools varied wildly so we had to choose areas carefully, And if you're coming on a 457 visa beware of the sudden introduction of school fees which has happened in WA - you'd be $6k a year down with 2 kids at school on a 457 if QLD introduced fees at the same rate as WA, or $9k down at NSW's rates!

Exciting times - good luck!

Backofburke Fri 02-May-14 10:07:00

I have not lived in Queensland but have lived in NSW , though currently living in UK but can give some general advice about moving kids as have done it a few times.
Look up the Queensland education department website regarding school starting age . I think they will have to turn 5 by 30 June in the year they start school. I found in NSW that people kept their children at home until nearly 51/2 but that was perhaps related to area I lived in . I would consider putting older DC in school when you arrive as they might make friends that you can have play dates with over summer. You might also find it easier to get info about summer camps that you can book to occupy some time in January, maybe intensive swimming courses, dance, gymnastics , sport etc. This will also free you up to bring younger DC to play groups where you and he can make some friends . We had a very lonely first summer in the UK because the kids had not been to school here and only had their cousins to play with. When DH finally gets it into his head that we NEED to move back to NSW will do it around September so that kids can cement friendships before long summer break. I am sure some Queensland mumsnetters will be along shortly to give you more specific advice, good luck with the move.

HowsTheSerenity Fri 02-May-14 10:32:55

I just outside Brisbane so ask away.
You can choose between private, what I like to call semi private (catholic primary etc) and state (government) schools.
School is cheaper then child care.
Why would you want them to move schools after a few months? New uncorks to buy etc..
They won't miss much by not starting until January. There are holidays in September then 6-8 weeks holidays from mid December.
I'd just use your time yo explore and find your feet.

HowsTheSerenity Fri 02-May-14 10:34:25

Uncorks? Uniforms I mean.

PinotGreedy Fri 02-May-14 10:39:39

Oh that's really helpful, thanks. Gosh yes, about schools having air con throughout.. I hadn't thought of that!

I am inclined to put them into school/kindy for the month or two before Christmas for reasons you say. Plus, while DH will be busy with his job, I'll be frantically trying to find a house, buy cars, open bank accounts, and job search for myself, so having the kids somewhere from 9-3 will help!

I haven't a clue about visas but DH is a citizen and I qualify to apply, so do I need to worry about that school fee thing? confused One more confusing thing to add to the list!

Also, any direct experience of how long it takes the container ship to arrive with our furniture, plus clear customs? I am seeing reports on line of anything between 5 and 12 weeks. What is it really likely to be? DH's employers are only providing one month furnished accommodation, so I am already stressing about that...

PinotGreedy Fri 02-May-14 10:48:32

Thanks Serenity. smile Very helpful, are you a native? Good point about uniforms, are they quite expensive there? And presumably not needed for kindy?? (I have no idea.)

I suspect the kids will be bored witless if they don't have somewhere to go each day, especially as we will be in an apartment so I can't chuck them out into the garden. They really don't like hanging around with me running errands on the days I pretend to be a SAHM here!

HowsTheSerenity Fri 02-May-14 11:11:27

I'm a recently returned native. Ahh yes I can understand the need to have somewhere to store the dc's for the day.
The cost of uniforms depends on the school, and if it's quite basic you can pick the un badged items at target etc..
I sent all my things back by sea freight and I gave it 3 months. It didn't take that long at all. I think 6 weeks?
State schools are technically fee free but in reality you pay for excursions, random fees etc and sometimes a cheap private school is only slightly more expensive then an expensive state school.

Mutley77 Fri 02-May-14 12:44:41

Hi - we were in a very similar position to you and you won't need to pay school fees - you will be a permanent resident and your children qualify for citizenship I assume so you should make sure they have that before you get there. (Have to apply for Australian citizenship by descent).

Uniforms and "fees"/extras in the public sector aren't wildly different to UK IME. The main difference is that all their stationery is provided by you - to a "list" which is approx $100 to $200 per year depending on age.

I personally found my DC needed to be in school as we didn't know anyone and they were used to being occupied / busy. You may find your younger DC won't be school age - will have to check online. My DC1 (aged 9) started school within about 3 weeks. DC2 (aged 5) soon after - unfortunately they had to be in different schools to start with but it wasn't that big a deal and DC2 moved to DC1's school fine after a few months. I agonised over a change of school unnecessarily but it turned out to be a total non-issue.

One month's accommodation will be a bit tight re shipping. Can you stay in the UK for a while after your container leaves - so that your things can get half way there perhaps? We had 2 weeks with family in UK then 2 months in a serviced apartment - luckily our container arrived in 8 weeks and we had managed to tie it up with a long-term rental (total luck) so we had 2 weeks to spare - but this could definitely have taken longer.....

Oh and we identified and signed a contract on a long-term rental after a couple of weeks - to start a few weeks later - which meant we could then focus on schools within our "permanent" area. Didn't bother with schools near the serviced apartment. And my DC were fine following my round to various appointments, house viewing etc - with a bit of bribery! Was all part of the adventure!

BuntingintheSunshine Sat 03-May-14 03:24:33

Yes, we sent our stuff ahead of us, we camped out in our house with mattresses on the floor, a crt TV, old saucepans and crockery I had hoarded / kept for a rainy day, and we'd bought new kettle, toaster, loads of stuff so shipped that and used the old stuff, donating it to someone who helped out homeless or vulnerable people set themselves up in a house the day we drove to the airport. We travelled seeing our family and friends around the country then too, dc had left school at the half term before so that gave us time to wander around.

We tracked our container across the world, it arrived the day we did, only took about 5 weeks, but took 3 weeks to clear customs and get delivered. We also found a rental within a few days of arriving so we had 3 weeks in a prepaid furnished rental then a weeks overlap.

chloeb2002 Sat 03-May-14 07:11:12

We moved to brisbane the same time if year.. I would say.. Kindy place.. If you can find one probably not worth being there! We live in north bris and dd is on the list for kindy next year. There's only 4 places left for a jan start. So to get a place in October till dec.. Urr doubt it!
Dd was year pre prep when we moved over on November 1st. We went to playgroup and kindy gym till school in January. She started school (reception) in the uk for a few weeks before we moved which wasn't helpful!
We rented before we moved.. Slummed it as we set up!
Certainly I've found it has taken a term to work who's who in the zoo at school before you even start on play dates etc. I'd start in jan. It will be unlikely you will be settled in enough before Xmas to be back to work. Be home if you can. Kids swimming lessons.. Gym.. Dance.. Playgroup.. It will give you chance to sound out which schools are good and bad before you commit. I'm sure if you give an area we can all give school advice wink but local knowledge is easy at the pool etc!
Uniforms are expensive. I wouldn't want to start school and then have to de camp and move do it again! Especially if you are renting self contained first before your own let. Maybe different areas.
Brisbane is amazing! We love it grin

chloeb2002 Sat 03-May-14 09:40:12

Oh.. And I can't remember what the dates are in the uk. Similar I think.. But prep is the year they turn 5. They have to turn 5 before 31st July.

SavoyCabbage Sat 03-May-14 09:52:29

If you are going to move house I would just let them hang about with you till you know where you are going to live longer term. I ink emigrating, starting a new school and then starting another new school is quite a lot to manage. Emotionally. Your youngest won't be able to go anyway.

Your removal company will be able to give you an accurate time for your shipping to arrive. They will know what ships they use and when they leave etc. Ours took the whole 12 weeks. We sent our stuff ahead and moved in with my sister.

ifink Sat 03-May-14 11:57:28

It's definitely 5 by or on 30th June to get into prep (reception equivalent ) in the following 5 by 30th June 2014 means a prep start of Jan 2015. If 5 after 30th June 2014, then it's prep starting in January 2016!! That could be a long wait depending on their birthday/what they have been doing etc. Prep is similar to UK reception but less play based in my experience. I don't wholly agree about about the kindys (the pre prep year) with spaces being not worthwhile though, it depends really where you live , there are shortages of spaces in some areas but round me new kindys have opened and this year have vacancies whilst the numbers filter through etc. PM me OP if you want further help.

Hazchem Mon 05-May-14 08:41:48

have you put your visa in yet? It took about 7 months to process OH visa and there is a lot of prep work before. Getting citizenship by decent was pretty quick but we had to go to Australia House for a passport for DS.

Hazchem Mon 05-May-14 08:43:35

Oh and you can open an Aussie bank account in the UK. Just contact a major bank and set it up. You'll have your keycard all set up before you get there. It can also make transfer large sums of cash cheaper and easier.

chloeb2002 Mon 05-May-14 21:39:50

I'm certainly not saying kindy isn't worthwhile.. Only that kindys who are not full or filling up fast when there is a huge shortfall still in kindy places, I would be dubious about. There are of course exceptions. New centres etc. wink kindy is a growing new concept here in qld and many centres just use it as a daycare scenario still.

PinotGreedy Sun 25-May-14 11:13:31

I just wanted to come back and say thank you all for your incredibly useful replies. We are definitely moving! I haven't had time to be on MN much as I'm now trying to get the house on the market! Aargh!

I'm sure I'll be back to learn more from you lot once I've got my head clear on that front. smile

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