Education and schooling in Brisbane consist of government and non-government schools. Government schools are, in most cases, free, while non-government schools are fee-paying.
Expat families moving to Brisbane will find that international schooling options are limited, but since English is generally the medium of instruction in both Australian public and private schools in Brisbane, English-speaking children should adjust relatively easily. On the other hand, this may prove difficult for those with limited English proficiency. In this case, parents should consider one of Brisbane's language immersion schools if they offer the child's home language.
Government schools in Brisbane
Brisbane's public schools are funded by the government and most offer only the Australian curriculum. Generally, these schools don't charge tuition fees, but this may not be the case for expat families on temporary visas. Some schools do require payment in the form of non-tuition fees, but these still add up to far less than the cost of attending a non-government school.
Some government schools in the state of Queensland offer language immersion programmes, where at least 50 percent of the curriculum is completed in a non-English language. There are various schools, for example, offering French, German, Japanese and Chinese immersion programmes.
Government schools are assigned according to catchment areas, so parents should keep this in mind when deciding which neighbourhood to move to.
Government schools are reviewed at least once in every four years by the Queensland Department of Education (QDE). Results are available on school websites. Schools are also encouraged to conduct self-assessments between QDE reviews in order to monitor their own progress.
Non-government schools in Brisbane
In Australia, non-government schools are fee-paying institutions that can be divided into two broad categories: private and independent. The term "private schools" refers solely to fee-paying Catholic schools, while all other fee-paying schools are known as "independent schools".
Independent schools have the freedom to take a more tailored approach to education than public schools. Some are based on religions such as Judaism, Islam and non-Catholic denominations of Christianity. Other independent schools employ alternative education philosophies, such as Waldorf or Montessori.
International schools in Brisbane
The only real option parents will have when it comes to an international education in Queensland will be the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. There are a few government and non-government schools in Queensland that offer this as an option to their students. Note that unlike most government schools, those offering the IB do charge fees in order to cover the cost of the programme.
Expat parents moving to Brisbane may find it useful to make themselves familiar with the QDE's international branch, known as Education Queensland International (EQI). EQI provides extra support for international students, particularly those that come from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
Tutoring in Brisbane
Tutors are widely used in Brisbane, particularly for complex subjects such as maths and science, as well as for university preparation. For expats, hiring a tutor is a great way to ease their children's transition to a new school.
There are a number of possible areas of focus that tutors can assist with. They can help expat children catch up with the local curriculum and, if English is not the child's first language, they can provide extra support in developing their English skills. There are a number of reputable tutors in the Brisbane area, including A Team Tuition and My Local Tutors.
Special needs education in Brisbane
When it comes to meeting special needs in the schooling system, the Queensland Department of Education operates on the principle of inclusivity. Their ultimate aim is to ensure that those with special needs can comfortably attend their local school, have access to the same rich and varied education as their peers, learn in a safe environment free of bullying or harassment and, with assistance, be able make good academic and social progress.
There is support for children with limited English proficiency under a programme known as English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D). Such students are usually identified by schools on enrolment or in the course of classroom learning. These students follow an intensive English programme alongside an adjusted Australian curriculum.