Living in the right catchment area could make all the difference to your child’s future
Choosing the best school for your children is one of the biggest decisions a parent can make. It’s a decision you agonise over – getting it right sets them on the path for success. But with so many schools in so many Perth suburbs to choose from, where do you even start?
When it comes to figuring out the best schools in Perth for your children, there are a range of factors to consider. There’s the private vs public debate, as well as cost, distance from home, travel options, and facilities for special interests or additional needs.
For many families, the choice is simple. Their children will go to a local public school. In WA, the vast majority public schools have a local catchment area. That means the school will only accept children whose permanent address is within a certain geographical zone. If you’re lucky enough to have several public schools in your zone, you’ll still need to consider which one is the best fit for your children.
Do you have a specific school in mind whose reputation precedes it? If so, we can help you find the perfect rental or forever home nearby.
Academic results and school performance are one way to compare schools and help narrow down the choices. Whether you’re deciding between public schools in your local zone or choosing between private schools across Perth, you’ll likely be interested in their track record and whether their academic results have improved.
The My School website gives parents information about the performance of schools over time, based on NAPLAN performance. It also gives information about schools like:
- Number of teaching staff and students
- Enrolment numbers based on gender
- Percentage of indigenous students and students with a language background other than English
- The school’s ICSEA value, which demonstrates the level of educational advantage (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage)
For more information about high schools, parents can also look at recent Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) results. This article lists the ATAR of every WA school in 2019, while this one has a handy animation of how the Top 20 WA schools ranked from 2012-2019.
Talk to other parents and ask the school lots of questions
Other parents are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to learning more about the best schools in Perth. However, it is important to be mindful that everyone has their own biases and opinions. Ask them about their experience with the teachers, find out how the school communicates with parents, and if their kids feel happy and safe there.
While a school can have a flashy website and great academic results, the culture and philosophy of the school is equally important. Visit the school and ask a lot of questions. Find out whether the school has an app, online portal or Facebook page to engage with parents.
- Do they have support for kids not performing well in class or having social problems?
- What’s their approach to homework?
- Do they have a school counsellor or pastoral care?
- What’s their approach to bullying?
- Do they have a strict uniform policy?
Getting answers to all these questions (and any others you can think of) can help you get a feeling for whether the school is right for your kids.
Selective Public Schools
Although entry to most Perth public schools is based on where you live, there are also a couple of selective schools that don’t rely on local-area intake.
Perth has two selective public schools, Perth Modern School and John Curtain College of the Arts. Selective public schools accept students based on their own specific selection criteria.
Perth Modern School is the only school in WA where all students are selected via the Academic Selective Entrance Test (ASET). On the other hand, John Curtin College of the Arts is for gifted arts students and selection is based on talent and aptitude. Applicants sit the ASET and participate in workshops, auditions and interviews. John Curtin College does also have a small local catchment area for students living in the local zone.
Your children’s interests and your family values
When deciding on a school, your children’s interests and abilities will obviously guide your decision. Does the school have a strong music, arts or sports program that your child will love? Does it offer a wide range of subjects or languages they’re interested in studying? Does your child have a disability or special needs?
Find out well in advance how the school will cater for your child’s individual needs to make sure they have a positive and happy time at school.
It can also be a good idea to consider where your child’s friends are going to school. Having a network of friends can make starting school or going to a new school less daunting.
Family values will also come into the equation.
- Do you want your children to have a religious education?
- Will they go to a single sex or co-ed school?
- Is a school that facilitates community involvement important to you?
- Is it essential the school embraces and celebrates cultural diversity?
Choosing a school can be tricky, and it would be great if we could simply give you a list of the Top 20 Best Schools in Perth. But at the end of the day, the best school is the one that’s right for your children.