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How hard is it to find a place at an Australian Private School? - The 2023 Update

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

If you are relocating to Australia with your family, you might be wondering about Private school places.

Are they easy to come by? And, if not, what’s the best way to secure a Private School place for your children when you move? Let’s explore what our relocation consultants have been experiencing in recent months.

Spoiler alert! The overwhelming feedback - for Sydney and Melbourne in particular - is that finding private school places is harder than it has been historically.


More families are choosing Private Education: Private School places have become increasingly desirable in recent years. Meanwhile, the proportion of students enrolled in public schools has plummeted to its lowest level in 15 years. This trend can be attributed to the stricter zoning of public schools, parental concerns over poor quality online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in new and affordable independent schools. The result? More parents are seeking out the best school for their child, rather than simply the one closest to home.

An Increase in Visa Approvals: An increase in both visa processing times and the number of visas being approved has resulted in lots of new residents. This has put extra pressure on the education sector, with demand for places in private schools exceeding supply. Schools that historically could accommodate our relocation families easily, have much longer waiting lists and less flexibility in year groups.

International Students are returning: Over the past 18 months, overseas students have been gradually returning to Australia. Whilst the majority of these students are concentrated across the University/further education sector, there has been a ripple effect that has impacted the amount of private school places available.

Our advice?

  • Engage a relocation consultant: If you want help making your families education search easier, working with a consultant with on-the-ground experience can make a huge difference. From helping you create a short list of schools that will be a good fit, to arranging tours and assisting with the application process, EWR offers a hands-on service tailored to your family.

  • Maximise their talents: If your child has a special skill/talent (e.g. music/sports), this can be beneficial, especially if it matches the school’s focus. Seeking out schools that are compatible with your child’s talents can be a good starting point.

  • Face-time: Visiting a school in person or requesting a video meeting with a school representative, is a good way for them to put ‘a face to a name’. Keeping in regular contact with schools of interest, also keeps you top of mind - useful if any last-minute vacancies arise (particularly relevant for daycare/early learning spaces). Attend the school’s Open Days where possible.

  • Find the school first: If you have specific requirements when it comes to schooling (IB program, Mandarin lessons, Montessori etc) you may be better off finding the school first and your home second. Our consultants are well versed in both sides of this equation, being tasked to find both homes located in certain school catchments and also homes once school placement has already been confirmed.

  • Be Open to alternatives: Whilst you may have a specific school in mind for your child or a particular ‘type’ of school (Catholic, Independent etc), being open to alternatives can prove fruitful. We have had clients adamant that they want a private education for their child who have done a 180 when they toured a brand new public high-school with excellent staff/pupil ratio. Others may initially be looking at public primary schools, only to discover Catholic schools in the area that would work as well, if not better (for a similar annual cost). Our relocation consultants can advise you of all the possible options, so you can make an informed decision for what’s best for your family.

Good to know:

  • Primary school places tend to be more competitive. This is because class sizes are smaller and there are usually only 1 or 2 classes per year.

  • Year 3, 5 and 7 are considered ‘entry’ years at Private Schools. Entry into these year groups can be more competitive as they are the years with a registered wait-list.

  • Girls often find it easier to find places at co-ed schools, where there tends to be a stronger skew of male students.

  • 2nd siblings are often given priority. Therefore, securing a place for one child can fast track their siblings' place in the queue. Alternatively, there are some brother/sister schools in Sydney/Melbourne in close proximity - so, your children may attend different schools but can still be closely aligned.

  • Most private schools require parents to complete an application and pay an enrolment fee before they will be considered ‘seriously’.

  • Copies of your child’s recent reports and immunisation records will be requested, so it’s worth putting these together prior to your move.

Looking to send your child to Private School in Australia? Need help with your families education search? Let our experienced relocation consultants make the whole experience much easier. 😀


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