This week’s Mailbox Monday post is from a parent moving to Sydney from South Africa.

Caitlin’s question below at first glance may seem very specific to her situation but the resources are not and information about what age her daughter starts school is not. In fact, these are both questions that have shown up in my inbox a few times before.

Though I do list some resources for parents from South Africa, I’m sure there are many others online.

If you have any other resources to add, please do in the comments section below the post instead of emailing me directly. This way everyone reading the post will be about to see and access the information too.

But before we get to the question and answer portion of this post…

What is Mailbox Mondays?

Every Monday I pick a question from you along with my reply straight out of my inbox to share with everyone here on Sydney Moving Guide.

I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I will do my best to point you in the right direction or help you with your research as I know there is a lot of noise out there on the interwebs and good resources are hard to find.

The aim of Mailbox Mondays is to start conversations on topics you want to know about. So please leave a comment, or ask a question, or share more info from your experience living in Australia in the comment section below.

Alright, let’s get started.

Today’s Question:

Hi Lauren
Your website is great! Thank you. Friends of mine mentioned you and hence my email.

We are due to move to Sydney from South Africa by July.

An opportunity has just come up for me in fact and I will know in the coming week whether I take it or not. That said it’s a great offer, but our circumstances are different as we have a 4-year-old little girl.

My job is located in North Sydney. I believe the Lower North Shore is a great place to live albeit perhaps a bit more expensive.

Our priorities are to not have a long commute to work and be close to good schools.

If you could advise which areas have the best public or Catholic schools. I’ve tried to investigate and I believe the Cammeray and Mosman area have great schools eg St Mary’s primary school in North Sydney and Cammeray Public School. If you could kindly advise I’d really appreciate it.

Our daughter turns 5 in November so I believe she will be in KG in 2016 which means I need
to get her on a list asap. In a way it’s a worry as she was due to start a private school in January in Johannesburg.

Furthermore, she has been attending preschool since she was 2, 5 times a week so I would need to ensure continuity from when we plan to arrive around July/August.

I have absolutely no idea here what and where good ones are located. This is really a priority in ensuring she immediately gets into a good preschool for the remainder of the year.

We both have hectic jobs and our priority is our daughter so we want to ensure it a right move for her in terms of good schools. I noticed the independent schools are extremely expensive. About 3-4 times the price of South Africa, but I’m unsure as to whether the public/catholic schools are just as good or whether it is recommended that we look at private schooling.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards
Caitlin

Lauren’s Reply

Hi Caitlin,
Thanks for much for the kind words.

It sounds like you’re on the right track as both Cammeray and Mosman are beautiful areas and, I’m assuming here, accept 457 visa holder students at the public schools for those areas. If you have a PR visa then no worries about schools.

Academic Year to Enroll in School for New South Wales

Your child’s age on or before
31 July
School typeThe estimated school year
of your child
4No enrolmentNo enrolment
5Primary schoolKindergarten
6Primary school1
7Primary school2
8Primary school3
9Primary school4
10Primary school5
11Primary school6
12Secondary school7
13Secondary school8
14Secondary school9
15Secondary school10
16Secondary school11
17Secondary school12
18No enrolmentNo enrolment

Since your daughter is currently 4 on or before July 31st then she will be starting Kindergarten January 2016. So right now you need to line up a preschool.

For finding a preschool either near your work or near home, check out my post about preschools in Sydney and the two preschool search site I list.

One of the preschool search sites has reviews and both have contact details, phone and email, of the preschools listed.

You can start contacting preschools now through email but be warned as most will not be willing to add you to their waiting list until you are present in Sydney.

Are you on Facebook? There is a group called North Shore Mums that might be a good resource for you to join. I would ask in there for preschool recommendations. This group is also a good group for other recommendations like doctors, dentists and babysitters.


I just did a quick search and found another Facebook group that might interest you, New South African Mums in Sydney North Shore.

How’s that for a specific interest? Not sure how active the group is, there are only a few members, but worth a try.

There is also a South African Mums in Sydney group.

Between those Facebook Parenting groups and the two preschool search sites, I have listed, you should be able to zoom in on a preschool you like.

Those groups will also be a great place to ask for recommended public schools and private Catholic schools. As I mention above, Mosman and Cammeray are both very nice areas and have good schools. If you have a 457 visa then stay clear of Neutral Bay as they do not accept 457 visa holders children.

Better Education also has a list of the top primary schools in Sydney here if you want to take a look.

As far as the cost of private schools, yes some are very expensive. If you have a 457 visa then you will have to pay tuition for your daughter to go to a public school of $5,000 per year. There are some very good public schools in Sydney so don’t discount them. As you’ll notice from the Better Education list above, Artarmon Public School is the fourth school listed.

Hope that helps out some.

All the Best,

Lauren

Click here to check out other Mailbox Monday Questions from SMG visitors.