What you need to know about applying for independent schools

There’s a lot to think about when choosing a school for your child, from the curriculum opportunities available to how well it performs academically. Once you have decided on a school, it’s time to start thinking about the application process. Our checklist describes everything you need to know about applying for independent schools — the ins and outs of selection policies, application fees and deadlines, and more.

  • Selection process: Independent schools can be selective or non-selective. Like selective government schools, selective schools in the independent sector require students to complete an examination prior to admission. Students may also be required to attend an interview with the principal or headmaster to determine their suitability for the school. Non-selective schools generally rely on waiting lists, admitting students on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that zone restrictions do not apply in the independent sector. Students are admitted on the basis of places becoming available.
     
  • Intake years: It’s advisable to check intake years with each school you are considering, as some may not offer places at all years. In Early Learning Centre (ELC) to Year 12 schools, for instance, spots may be available at the ELC stage as well as at Years 3, 5 and 7. In some schools, additional places may also be allocated for the senior years, with many parents choosing to send their children into the private sector for Years 11 and 12.
     
  • Application deadlines: Applications can usually be submitted throughout the year, although there are cut-off dates each year. Depending on the competitiveness of the school, applications may be submitted the year prior to enrolment, but usually several years before you intend to enrol your child. ELC and Year 7 applications should be submitted well in advance. Some of the more prestigious schools encourage parents to place their child on a waiting list soon after birth. Application forms are usually available through the school’s website.
     
  • Application and enrolment fees: Many schools charge application and enrolment fees. Application fees are paid when the application is submitted and usually start at around $50, with some schools charging as much as $400. The enrolment fee is paid when your child is accepted. These fees are much higher and, at some schools, can reach close to $2000. Fees may differ depending on whether your child is enrolling as a day student or a boarder.
     
  • Scholarships: Scholarships are often available and applications, if needed, can usually be submitted alongside the main application form. Research the types of scholarships the school offers, in which years they are available and their duration. Check with the school to see whether your child is considered on their application alone or if there is an additional process, such as an examination or interview. For more information, see the Scholarships section.

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