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  1. Hi everyone. We are leaving for Sydney in 3 to 6 months time. We have started researching schools. We have 2 8 year old boys (twins) and a 5 year old boy. The twins are currently in grade 2 at St Stithians College. We were initially looking at private schools in Sydney, but it looks like we will struggle to get in - they have a similar situation to SA where you need to register your kids at birth in order to get a place! I will get them in the queue for now and hopefully they will get places later. For now, we need to look at public schools. I have no idea where to start (apart from checking the Naplan ratings, etc). Can anyone recommend a public primary school in the north west area, anywhere between Wahroonga and the City? Or perhaps a semi-private Christian school (not Catholic)?
  2. We packed our bags and everything we owned. All things were a bit helter skelter and last minute and I cannot say well planned or properly thought through. We got on a plane on 26 November, landed in Melbourne midnight Sunday night. We stayed in a one bedroom flat on the fringes of the CDB for the first 12 days. I am glad we did that, because it made the city accessible. We spent the weekends exploring the city. Melbourne CBD is really great, my favourite part of the city. Having stayed in the city means we know the layout of the CBD and came to like it. I started working almost immediately. After our cramped living; 4 people, 10 suitcases, 1 bedroom (the kids slept in the lounge on a sofa-bed) we were fortunate enough to move to a colleague’s house in the posh suburb of Kew. We had to look after their house and dog. It was a stunning house, with a nice living area and outdoor entertainment area with water fountain and lovely garden. It was nice to be able to spread out a bit. The house sitting also came with an offer of a beach house and we went to the beach house between Christmas and New Years. We had a lovely Christmas by the sea. Getting the kids into school was our biggest challenge. We arrived too late for all applications to schools. The state schools have to take you if you fall in their area. They refused to speak to us until we had a house in their area. We spent the first two weeks visiting schools and choosing a school and only once we had a school we were happy with, we started looking for houses in that school’s area. We looked at Coburg as a nice area, but the school in Coburg does not have Arnold’s year. They stopped taking in new students one year and therefore just don’t have that one year. The surrounding schools refuses to take Arnold if we live in the area with the school that does not take Year 10 because we are not in their area. All the surrounding schools are also full, because they needed to accommodate all the extra kids because the other school does not take that year. We therefore abandoned Coburg. We started looking at an area called Essendon and got a house on the edge of the zone for a very good school. One of the best in the state. However, we only signed our lease one day before the schools closed for the December holidays. The school just told us they were full and cannot meet with us. In the mean time, when we just started looking at schools, Francois visited a school called Mount Alexander College. It is close to my work, 2 km, on a tram line, the tram stops right in front of the school. It is a fairly small school, around 500 kids, the others were all around 1000. Francois spoke to the principal, saw a video of the school and sent me a message “This is our school”. He was really impressed. The school is in a not so great (for Australia anyway) socio-economic area and draws a lot of what people here call “immigrant children”. I know, my kids are also immigrant children. What they mean by immigrant children are children who cannot really speak English and struggle in school. I also have a strong suspicion that it is polite speak for black and from Africa. This school's reputation and standardised test results are not that great, they don’t get 100% pass rate and everyone going to university. In short it is not “a good school”. The principal started in 2015 (late) and all the stats you get online stop in 2015. Here is an article describing the school: http://www.kidspot.com.au/school/secondary/real-life/this-school-is-breaking-all-the-rules-and-the-students-are-succeeding The principal keeps talking about all the changes he made. They have a different philosophy about learning. They believe children should be empowered to take control of their own learning. He wants to raise independent learners in stead of spoonfeeding people. The children can choose their own subjects, no restrictions. They can evening do MOOCs and study completely on their own. He also got a lot of money from the government and upgraded some facilities. The school looks good. They do not put children in grades. You are in a class according to your ability. If you are good at maths, you move up to the advanced maths class and if you are bad you take the lower maths class. In other words, the school is not arranged according to grades. My children could theoretically be in the same class if they wanted. Francois and the boys wanted to be in this school and mom wanted to keep looking for a “good school”. Schools closed 19 Dec, we had a house in a good school area and had to wait till late in January for the schools to open again before we could speak to schools. We spent a stressfull month wondering where the kids will go to school. I had applied at both schools. A week before the schools started Mount Alexander or MAC as they call themselves met with us, discussed the boys’ subjects and sorted everything out. The Friday before schools started the good school called us. They said they had to take the kids and will meet with us the day before school starts. We spent a few hours with them. Grade 8 was easy, he does not have much to choose between, basically he had to choose his second language. The options were Japanese and German. Year 10’s subjects would not work out because they had to accommodate the roster and whether classes were full or not. He is a sciency kid and all he could end up with was music, some weird community service thing I still don’t understand, drama, geography, maths and English. This is all the day before school starts. We walked out of there at 3:30 the day before school starts and decided, this is not going to work. So we sent the kids to MAC. They seem very happy there. I have not seen any grades yet, but the school seems good. I like the smaller classes. In some of their classes they are about 10. We are renting a house. House prices in Melbourne is crazy. I cry everytime I compare what I left in Durban with what I have here. A house of $1 mil is nothing special. And that is R10 mil. We have a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, actual house. It is not too small, rooms are spacious enough (except one). The garden is tiny and we don’t have a garage. We do have a carpark with a roof. Only one. And tiny – so tiny in fact that we have already scratched the new car getting into it. And a laundry room. Not a lot of storage space in the house. We are not supposed to hoard here. When we lived in the city I walked to work, about 25 mins. When we lived in Kew I took the train, about 25 mins and now I cycle to work, about 30 mins. The boys and I leave the house at 8 in the morning, cycle together to their school and then I cycle another 2km to work. At work I have a bike storage area and showers, with hair dryers etc to shower before getting to work. It would take husband an hour to drop us all. We will reassess the cycling when the winter and rains come. What do we think of Australia? The kids answered this question in the beginning that it is just like South Africa. Especially before they went to school, they just had a very long holiday, staying at home mostly, reading and surfing while their mom worked and their dad looked at rental houses. Food wise it is just like South Africa. Because of our shared British roots you basically get all the foods you are used to seeing in the shops. Less spicy Indian, but you can find it if you try. Being close to Asia there are lots of Asian influences, so there are lots of foods we don’t know as well. Some food are really expensive; especially fruit and vegetables, but many others are the same as in South Africa. If you buy seasonally and what is on special groceries will probably cost you what it did in SA. If you insist on buying specific things you could spend a lot more. The food are good quality, the fruit are great. Things are easier. Connecting your gas, electricity, phone etc took almost no time. And all of it worked. People are quite efficient. They like doing things online if possible. Eating out is ridiculously expensive. Ice cream cones cost $6 and coffee is $4. Coffee is really good. I still don’t get ordering coffee. You go to a coffee shop. They post a price for coffee, usually $4. When you order you say you want coffee and they keep looking at you. As if they are asking: please specify. And then you say cappuccino, and they seem happy. It seems that coffee is some collective noun and not a thing on a menu. I have no idea how to get a normal cup of coffee. And I assume cappuccino cost the same as that elusive normal cup of coffee would cost. Coffee is everywhere and quite good. The free coffee in the office is Nescafe gold. The stuff that would have been Frisco in SA. And nobody drinks it. They all rather buy coffee from the coffee shop. What is different: Microwaves cool themselves after they heated the food. The kids wear uniforms to school, but they are much more relaxed than in SA. Girls wear makeup and nail polish, their hair are loose. Boys have long hair. They also look a bit more unneat than we are used to. We were not sure about hair rules and asked both schools when we met. They look surprised that people might restrict hair styles. Their question was “How will they express themselves?” And my kids are expressing themselves. They have not had a haircut since we left SA in November. They really like their long hair and mention that they like feeling their hair move. Cost of things Australia is expensive and Melbourne is expensive. Food prices can be divided into a few categories: Same price as in South Africa: milk, almost exactly the same, canned food (like beans and tomatoes), white bread, beer (some types) Luxury foods that would have been imported in South Africa were often quite similar, for example Lindt chocolates, olive oil, deli cheeses, craft beer, etc. Ridiculously expensive category: joghurt, scoops ice cream (like Mozarts), fruit and vegetables. We ate a lot of fresh fruit and veg in South Africa and I am still shocked at the prices for it here. Sweet potatoes $5 per kg, $5 per mango (they are a bit cheaper now), cherries are like $29, etc. Carrots seem to be fairly cheap. We eat a lot of carrots now. Chips is also much more expensive than back home. Actually cheaper: cream and cheese Expired food seem to be sold on special. I have seen a few really good bargains; that turns out to be food past its expiry date. And it is not like the food expired yesterday, some of it had expired months ago. I do not think shops ever sold expired food in SA. Petrol used to be similar to SA, but got really expensive overnight. It jumped by 20c. Petrol prices differ from garage to garage and seems to change overnight. So we never know whether it would be cheaper or more expensive tomorrow. Cheese here is really nice. Amazing brie, blue cheese, even the cheap Coles brand cheddar cheese is good. Driving Driving is a breeze. My kids say driving here is like playing a video game on easy. Cars move at a slower speed, people give you a chance to change lanes, they stop when they are supposed to stop, nobody tries to overtake you when you are driving on a quite single lane back road. Drivers are polite and give you a gap. Distances take a lot longer than expected. You would drive 10 km in 20 mins, Traffic circles everywhere; even in quiet residential streets and on highways. Robots are red forever. Cycling to work takes about as long as driving. There are dedicated bike lanes for most of the trip to work. If you are on a bike you zip past the cars standing and get to wait at the front of the line at the red lights. Sunsets and sunrise can be truly spectacular, as lovely as in South Africa
  3. Sabrin

    Mixed bag

    Couple of qlvaried questions for those who went on a 190 visa to nsw: 1. You don't need a job offer on this sub-class so assume most people go and then find work once there. How did you decide where to work / live? Not sure to look at school first, then area then commute then job. May be overthinking it. 2. Time of year: processing times 4-8 months. Ideally want to be there in Aug when 3rd term starts but any advice on going later in the year if visa comes in later? 3. Age: not sure if it's a real concern but always a worry in SA. Husband turned 47 this month. Experienced manager in warehouse management. Is age discriminiation a worry in Oz or are they more open to experienced candidates than here in SA? 4. CV writers: yay or nay? Thanks
  4. JaxBaker83

    Schools and Zoning

    Hi everyone Our 190 visas to South Australia were approved last week (yay), and things have moved very quickly- we are flying on the 2nd of November, in the hopes of trying to find a rental in a good school zone before December (we'll be staying in an airbnb until the end of Nov) Our twins will be starting reception year in Adelaide in January so we are hoping to get a nice rental for a good school zone, although we have no idea what area we are going to choose yet. I understand that the government schools are strictly zoned, and proof of residence is required upon enrollment. But what happens if you move out of the zone a year later, do you have to continually prove that you are in the school zone? With such a big move and all the changes, we would like the kids to at least have the stability of sticking to 1 school, even if we have to commute to get them there from another suburb. We don't have much time to secure a rental before the schools close, so another relocation next year is inevitable Thanks so much- looking forward to your insights
  5. Hi Everyone, Quick question... When we lived on the Gold Coast many years ago and it was just hubby and myself. We now have a job offer in Melbourne and looking to move back to Australia... this time with 2 kids. I have no idea about schooling/creche. Can you please give me some background on how things will work for us... Son is 6 turning 7 next year May so I assume he will go into grade 1 equivalent (how much is school for him?) Daughter is 3 turning 4 next year - she is currently in school everyday until 2pm. Is this called Kindie and is this where she would go? How much are we talking here? Job offer is Bayside in the East of Melbourne. Thanks for any tips or advice in advance
  6. Sassyninja

    Kindergarten

    Hi there. Can anyone help me? Am looking into school fees to get a better idea of cost of living for our family. If we move this year on our 189, my daughters will be 1 and 4. Our eldest can start kindergarten in 2017, but I cannot find what the fees would be for kindergarten? Thanks in advance!!
  7. kleynhansjan

    Afrikaans in Australia

    We have only been here in Australia for 9 months but I already feel that my Afrikaans is deteriorating. I would also love for my children to be able to speak Afrikaans. I can teach them everything that they need to know but would love for them to be able to complete some sort of examination to prove that they are fluent in "Die Taal". Are there any organization in Australia that offers some sort of formal tuition in Afrikaans?
  8. We're arriving in Canberra in 22 days time and have done some research into public schooling. It looks like most of the schools are pretty close to each other in terms of academic performance. I was just wondering about some of the other aspects of schooling. My son is 7 so will probably be going into year 1 or year 2. Some of the things we are worried about are : He is an extremely active kid and can't get enough sports so we are looking for a school that will offer him a decent range of sports to channel all of that energy constructively. He is already eclipsing most of his peers on the cricket field and really enjoys soccer, hockey and judo. He is not the most artistic child in the world despite our efforts to develop that. Other than nagging for a guitar which I feel he is a bit young for he just has no interest in it. Co-ed is also preferred because I do think that learning to interact healthily with members of the opposite sex is an important part of schooling. Schools with the ability to deal with mild ADHD without pressuring us to put him on meds all the time would also be great. (Unlike the swanky private school he went to this year. Grrrr.) Based on this are there any schools that we should be short listing or possibly look at first once we arrive?
  9. Hi all, We are moving over to Sydney in April and have been offered an apartment in Lane Cove until we find a permanent home. We love Lane Cove however realistically we will most likely move a few suburbs further from the city in the hope of getting a bigger house. Our problem is that St Michaels Catholic Primary in Lane Cove is a very nice school and we will have a lease on the apartment but what will happen if we move out of Lane Cove in 6 months or more. Will we need to have our son change schools again? Thanks shaeden
  10. Hi All We're planning to move from Sydney's Eastern Suburbs to either ST IVES, CHERRYBROOK, WAHROONGA OR HORNSBY. One child in primary school and one in high school. Our son that''s in high school still struggles with the english language as he's only been in Aus a couple of months, thus our focus will be to find a GOOD PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL (due to financial constraint we cannot consider a private school) for him. I currently work in Mosman, thus PEAK TRAFFIC TO AND FROM MOSMAN will play a role and we would prefer a 3 bedroom house (that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to rent) in an area where there's AFRIKAANS SPEAKING SOUTH AFRICANS (our main aim is to seek an area where our teenage son can feel at home - he is from the Free State and is experiencing a bit of culture shock at the moment). My husband works in the St Marys area, thus somewhere in the middle of St Marys and Mosman will be ideal. Anyone able to give me advice on where to move to?
  11. Jumping the gun a bit, but something the wife is keen on knowing. We are near the end of the process of receiving our visas. How do school grades in SA compare to school years in AUS. My son has just turned 7 and is in grade 1 and my daughter has just turned 9 in grade 3 ( birthday's a week apart) where would they fit in at school.
  12. Arrived in Brisbane few days ago and everything has gone smoothly. I will write a post about my experience, but I need help making a decision. Might be something only Brisbane locals can truly influence but I am all ears for the wisdom of others that don't know the two respective schools. Middle daughter is accepted to Lourdes Hill College and so is her younger sister (9yrs. - Yr. 4) at later stage. For this year I had applied at Sts. Peter and Pauls Catholic private school based on preference and ratings - but it was full - and even after several email request about a spot opening up (and some prayers) it did not. So I resorted to finding a good state school reputation in similar area, and thankfully settled on Norman Park S.S. She isn't enrolled there yet, but I spent my first weekend getting an apartment rental with year lease in the catchment area, so there would be not arguement that she could rightfully attend. This was stressful (and I limited my search to the walkable area around NPSS). Success - we signed a lease and I will email the principle this week to advise her that my daughter will be coming. About an hour after paying the two week rent on apartment, an email came (after months with no correspondence with St. P&Ps) that a spot was available for Yr. 4 - can I come for an interview. Oh my! I said yes, and plan to go but now am not sure that it right decision. Our financial situation isn't quite what I expected it might be, lost lots of $ on house sale before moving and my spouse hasn't found job so he will follow in a couple months when I feel ready to quit his employment.... then look for however long it takes. So, I have five days to decide. One other fact, even if I could get out of the lease for the apartment and be closer to the st. P&P school, the rents are much more expensive as go up towards Bulimba....however the walk from near Norman Park ferry stop(new apartment) is very far to Sts. P&P - and my youngest gets tired and puffy in heat and with long treks... hhhmmmm
  13. We moved to WA November 2013. Before we came, one of my greatest concerns were how the kids would cope academically as each one of them had to skip a year of school to fit into the right Australian year for the age. My kids aren't Einsteins, They did kind of average. Two of them have ADHD and the youngest missed the whole of grade 1. And in SA they were not yet reading or writing in pre-primary. We have now finished one term. My youngest son (Year2) wrote a little maths test in the first day of term one. It took him 25 minutes and he scored 13/50. On the first day of the second term, they did a similar test, but this time he completed it in 11 minutes and scored 49/50. He is almost where his classmates are in reading and his writing is on par. I have no doubt that he will continue to catch up what he lags behind in before the 3rd term. My middle son skipped grade 5 and is in year 6. He is doing absolutely fine as well, And the same for my eldest who missed grade 6 and is nor in year 7 in high school. He is coping really well. So if you are stressing as much as I was...it worked out alright (so far) And all the kids are delighted that they finish school a year earlier
  14. Hi everybody We are planning to migrate to Sydney in January 2014, and I would like to know what the process is to enrol my child at a high school? Is it like in RSA where we have to enrol a long time in advance? Do we need a special letter or something from the Immigration department? Do we need anything from the current school? Can we do it online from here? Thanks Tersia
  15. This is a great initiative that I'm sure will be of use to South African teachers coming to Oz or Saffers with kids who have just started school or who will be starting school soon. It's a series of videos that offer these parents advice on modern teaching methods and what is expected of parents these days. So much has changed over the years and Australian has some different teaching methods like Montessori and the Walker method. My boy is 8 and find it quite different to when I was at school https://www.youtube.com/user/LearnEarly
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