Living in Melbourne?
Child Care and Education in Melbourne
Day Care in Victoria
Expat families who come to live in Melbourne may wish to be informed about child care options and the local education system in the state of Victoria. Working parents with children under the age of five can choose between several kinds of day care in Melbourne:
- Community daycare centers can be found via the website of your local council. They are probably the cheapest option available.
- Other families may prefer private daycare facilities. The Australian Childcare alliance can refer you to online registers of licensed services.
- There are also individual sitters — mostly stay-at-home mothers — that offer so-called “family day care”, looking after a handful of kids in their own home.
- Last but not least, if you can afford it, you can also hire in-home care, like an au-pair or a professional nanny, to stay with your kids and take care of them.
Depending on the sort of day care you opt for, costs range from about 6 AUS to 30 AUD an hour.
Pre-School and Schooling in Melbourne
Once your children reach the age of six, schooling is mandatory for them in Victoria. Slightly younger (usually either three to five) children in Melbourne often attend pre-school. This is a one or two-year noncompulsory program with 15 hours a week. You can receive further information on your local program, available places, and the enrolment process from your local council.
All children up to the age of 17 have to attend school. From grade one to six, they go to primary school while secondary education includes grades seven to twelve. School hours for most schools in Victoria, including the Melbourne area, usually begin at 9:00 and end at 15:00. However, at some schools, additional care outside regular hours may be available.
Schooling Options for Expat Kids
There are different types of schools in greater Melbourne:
- Public schools are — unlike their British namesake — indeed government-sponsored schools that are free for all students. Families only have to pay for extra costs like the price of new textbooks or school uniforms. The language in the classroom is English, but expat children may be eligible for additional ESL (English as a second language) classes.
- If you’d like to send your child to a public primary school, a place will be allocated to them at the nearest primary, in the so-called “neighborhood zone”. In case you should prefer to send your children to a different primary school, you need to contact the school’s office directly and ask if they still have free places.
- In Victoria, students typically attend the secondary school that is closest to where their families live. However, parents have the option to send their children to another public secondary school if it offers a different curriculum. For example, if you want your child to take music courses, you have the option to place them in a school that offers music lessons in their curriculum. In the last two years, students have to prepare for a leaving certificate. The Victoria Certificate of Education (VCE) is the equivalent to an academic high-school diploma. The Victorian Certificate of Applied Training (VCAL) prepares graduates for vocational training.
- Of course, there are also a number of private (or independent) schools in Victoria. All of them charge tuition fees. Many of them are traditionally affiliated with the Catholic Church, so you should check whether this is the right choice for your family.
- International schools are a specific subset of private schools. They can accommodate the needs of expat children better than many other schools, but their annual fees can be rather high. The state of Victoria features 16 International Baccalaureate Schools and several CIS member schools, as well as a Deutsche Schule and a Nihonjin gakkō.
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