Is it possible to enroll kids in school before moving to Sydney?

This week’s Mailbox Monday post is from a mom of a 10th grader who is planning her move to Australia after the school is finished in New York. As a good mom, she was hoping to lock down a secondary school for her daughter before they moved but, unfortunately, she is having a hard time doing so and for a very good reason but we’ll get into that in just a little bit.

Today’s Question:

Hi Lauren,

We are moving to Sydney from NY this Summer 2015, as soon as my 15-year-old finishes her 10th-grade classes.

It’s quite a daunting process to find a school for her…I took your advice to email numerous schools, asking if they are able to take students with temporary visas. We didn’t want to pick a place to live if the school we chose had location requirements.

I have received many replies, but most schools need to have a residential address before they can help us. So, I am just wondering if you have any other ideas to help make this a smooth move.

Thanks for all your help!


Lauren’s Reply

Hi Ruth,

First off, I’m sending a pdf of the NSW Government Schools for International Students. These are the schools that accept temporary visa holders.

Have you checked out the Department of Education and Communities website? Have a look. There are a ton of forms and documents on the site.

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They also have an ask a question online form if you need more info.

Have to warn you, though, as they don’t give much detail in their answers but sometimes you get someone a bit more chatting that will give you a good answer.

Finding a location to live and a school in Sydney is definitely a Catch 22 sort of situation.

You need proof of an address to enroll but, since you’re moving, you don’t have one. Also, you want to live in a nice area with a good school.

The only high school I’ve heard of that declined to accept temporary residents visa holders is Neutral Bay. Most families that have moved into the Neutral Bay catchment zone end up going to Mosman, which has a very good high school. So far I haven’t heard of anyone having trouble enrolling in Mosman.

The directory pdf has the name of the International Student Coordinator. That might, at least, get your emails and inquiries into the hands of the right person.

Your daughter might not like moving to Australia as much as you because she will most likely end up in 10th grade again until December when school is out for the Australian Summer Holiday.

The good news is that she will be part of the Year 10 subject selection, a very important part of going to high school in NSW.

Here is a site you want to look at about her graduating from a high school in Sydney has things are a bit different from the States.

Basically, in NSW students can choose to leave school after Year 10. If they want to go on to university then Year 11 and Year 12 are very important.

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It’s kind of similar to A-Levels in the UK but with broader subjects.

Many universities in NSW have subject selection nights to help students with this.

Have you started looking into areas of Sydney you might want to live? The directory should help you with at least knowing what schools accept international students.

You might also be able to get answers from other parents in a couple of Facebook Groups I know about for Americans in Australia.

1. American Families in Sydney
2. Americans Down Under
3. Yanks in Oz

Ok, hope I didn’t overwhelm you with too much info.

Let me know if you have other questions.

Have a great week.


What is Mailbox Mondays?

Every Monday I pick a question from an email subscriber, 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 Monday posts 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, moving to and living in Australia, in the comment section below.