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State vs Private - How to choose the right school for you?

There are a total of 110 State and Private Schools on the Gold Coast. So how do you choose the right school for you and your child?

Here we take a look at the different types of schools (state vs private) and we include a comprehensive list of all private primary and secondary schools on the Gold Coast by suburb, including their annual school & tuition fees.

Gold Coast private schools & school fees

What is the difference between a State School and a Private School?

In Queensland we differentiate two types of schools, State Schools (also referred to as a Public School in many other states) and Private Schools. A State School is a Queensland government-funded school that follows the state curriculum.

There are two types of State Schools in QLD, the Independent State Schools and non-independent State Schools. While still part of the state's education system, the Independent State Schools have greater autonomy and higher degree of decision-making and an increased ability to work in new ways to maximize learning outcomes. There are approx. 30 Independent State Schools on the Gold Coast.

School Philosophy and Cultures

Private Schools are made up of a diverse range of school cultures and teachings. These include Catholic, Christian and Anglican schools, Non-denominational, Community Schools and Boarding Schools. While the school is subject to basic educational requirements set by the state's department of education, otherwise the school curriculum is set entirely by the individual's school charter. This flexibility in the curriculum allows private schools to focus their teachings in line with their specific philosophy and on areas they deem important.

Many private schools offer programs and/or alternative teaching philosophies not found at many state/public schools. This can include religious studies, arts-based programs, athletics and academic excellence programs but also special needs programs for students requiring additional guidance or support. At most state schools these types of programs are non-existent or often underfunded.

School Fees

Apart from the teaching philosophy, another major difference is that State Schools are free to attend for citizens and permanent residents, while a tuition fee applies for private schools. Fees can range anywhere from a couple of thousand up to $25,000 per year - which when compared to some of the elite private school tuition fees in Sydney and Melbourne isn't all that much.

Catchment Areas & Waiting Lists

In order to get into a State School, you generally have to live in the school’s catchment area. When you live or move into a catchment zone, the school has to accept the student, no questions asked. Depending on the school’s capacity they may take out-of-area students (ie students who do not live in the catchment zone), so if you have your heart set on a specific school it’s worth contacting the school directly. Here’s a map with all the state school catchment areas by Gold Coast suburb.

Private schools will take students from any area, and often offer a school bus service to transport students between the different areas and suburbs of the Gold Coast.

Especially for the more prestigious private schools there can be a long waiting list, so it pays to start thinking about schools early on and get your name down for a couple. To get on the waiting list, these schools charge a non-refundable admin fee of between $100-$150 per child.

First year of school in QLD is called Prep

It is also relevant to point out that in Queensland the first year a child attends school is called Prep, this is the same in Victoria and Tasmania. In NSW the first year is called Kindergarten or Kindy, in Western Australia it’s Pre-Primary, in South Australia it’s referred to as Reception while in the NT and ACT it’s known as Transition. Read: What age do children start school in QLD?

List of Private Schools on the Gold Coast

If you’re considering an independent private school for your kids, here’s a comprehensive list and map showing all the Gold Coast private schools by area including their tuition fees.

Suburb insights...