An Insider’s Guide to Living in Syndey
Rest assured your children will be in good hands at any Sydney school. That said, it’s always best to do your research and know what’s out there and to do this far in advance of yours and your family’s move to Sydney. If you’re looking for childcare in Sydney, this can also come as a challenge, so be prepared to do some leg work and chasing.
Pre-school childcare for children under the age of 6 can be hard to get into in Sydney. Some preschools sometimes ask for a fee of up to $50 - just to get onto the waiting list. The best thing to do when looking for a preschool is to start your research early. Get on a waiting list as soon as you can and find the area that best suits you, this may well be dependent on which pre-school you can get your child into.
Some women in Sydney sign up to nurseries or put their name on wait lists for nurseries as soon as they find out their pregnant. Be aware that child care in Sydney is in high demand and can be expensive (up to $100 a day in some popular suburbs). It pays to be prepared and to know that there will likely be competition for nursery spots so get on that wait list as soon as you can and keep calling to see how things are progressing.
Daycare centres are also in high demand in Sydney and require very much the same process as any nursery or kindergarten school might. You will need to sign up to a waiting list before your move and look for a suburb that may be less populated to live in and register your child to.
If you’re looking for someone to take care of your children on an ad-hoc basis, a great childminder may well be the best option for you. In Sydney, this is also called Famile Daycare. Be warned though, this is not much cheaper than a standard day care centre. When searching online, make sure to look for ‘Family Daycare’ if this is the option you want to go for. Look to websites like careforkids.com.au - there are a great range of options on there to choose from.
A nanny will look after your child in your home. This can be extremely comforting for young babies and saves you from making the ‘school run’. Nannies can live-in or out, it’s one of the many considerations to factor in when deciding what solution best suits your family and you can find a qualified, recommended nanny with references at thenannycollective.com.au or weneedananny.com.au.
Prices for childcare are exceptionally high in Sydney, so it’s best to think about exactly what care your child needs and how often you will need to factor in this care. Run as private business, child care centres can charge $100 a day and this doesn’t vary greatly when you take your child to a family day care centre (or child minder).
The cost of a nanny in Sydney is minimum $100 a day but costs for a good nanny are often higher. It’s worth interviewing around and scoping out the level of care and experience at each pay grade to find a quality nanny for your children. Lullabynannyshare.com also offers a nanny share service, meaning that one nanny could look after yours and another child at the same time, making the cost a little more economical for you.
Between the ages of 6 and 17 years, young people are obliged to attend compulsory full-time education in Sydney. 5 year olds are introduced to the structure and discipline of school life in their first kindergarten class while 6 years old can start primary school and will remain in the New South Wales school system until the age of 17.
You have two primary options when it comes to education in Sydney. You can choose to place your child in a public school or a private school. Public schools in Sydney are generally regarded as very good though this is largely dependent on the area and on government funding, as with most schools. It is best to do your research on the area you’ll be living in and whether the schools in this area are adequately funded. The Catholic education system is very highly regarded in Sydney, with many seeing this is an acceptable middle ground between public and private education. Because of this though, it is incredible hard to get your child enrolled into a Catholic school and you will most definitely have to enroll with a parish if you want this to be the case.
When selecting a school, you can use the government’s My School website as a tool for assisting you make that all important choice.
You can enroll your child into any public school throughout the year, if there is enough space in said school. You can find an enrollment form at the NSW Department of education and you’ll also need to provide supporting documentation with the form.
It’s best to use the area you’re living in or choosing to live in as guidance on the schools that will be available to you because most schools enrol based on catchment areas. That means it’s best for you to look for the ideal school, then choose your area based on that.
Faith based schools are a popular options for expats on a temporary visa because the fees tend to be much less than what you might need to pay to access the public system. Most of the suburbs have a Catholic primary school and they do accept non-catholic families on occasion but you do need to agree to support the values of the Catholic Church.
Private schools are another popular options with expats but be aware of the high costs of this option. Your child will also need to sit an exam the year before entry - so be sure to enroll them as soon as you can so they can sit the exam. The cost of the average school year for a private school in Sydney is above $37,000 now.
If you prefer for your child to study their own home curriculum, an international school may be the best option for them. Be aware though, that this option is even more expensive than a standard Australian private school. This however is the price to pay for ensuring continuity in your child’s education should you be expecting to return to your home after your time in Sydney.
Sydney is an exciting city to explore as a young person. With exceptional museums, verdant parks, sports and activity clubs for kids in the city being part and parcel of life growing up. There’s plenty here to feed growing minds, from theatre to exploring fun play centres.
There’s so much to do in Sydney, especially catering for children, that your little ones will never be bored. The Luna Park is one whole day of fun for the kids, with seaside rides and traditional games reminiscent of the British seaside town. Think Helter Skelter and and rickety wooden rides for a heavy dose of nostalgia, ever for the parents. Then there’s Manly Surf School, offering kids the chance to get to grips with a surf board and the opportunity to learn to ride waves like a pro. Other great days out for the kids include visits to Taronga Zoo, packed with koalas, hippos, komodo dragons and other wildlife.
Take the children out in nature and let them run around in Sydney Olympic Park. Have a barbecue or get them on their bikes for a ride around the wetlands, this huge expanse of green in the city has a huge host of activities to offer, from golfing to trapeze.
For a slice of nature right in the city, look no further than Sydney Harbour National Park. Right on the water, this 392 hectare plot of land offers scenic hiking trails and great picnic spots, should you want to take a break from the action and treat the kids to a sandwich in the shade.
This guide to schooling and child care is certainly not definitive, but it gives you helpful pointers that will prove extremely useful should you visit for an extended period of time. Remember; Sydney is packed with multiculturalism and creative influences that will please, entertain and educate people of all ages.