crayons, coloring, child

Starting primary school in Victoria (Free PDF checklist)

Are you a parent with a child starting primary school in Victoria this year? As a first time parent, I’ll write in this post about our experience. You can download a free checklist that I’ve made in a PDF format.

To start school in Victoria, your child must turn five before April 30th of the current school year. That’s the first criteria to starting primary school in Victoria. Even if your child’s birthday falls short a day or two from April 30th, your child will not be enrolled unless five years old.

Child’s age: First criteria to starting primary school in Victoria

The state of Victoria starts a new school year next week. For our family, it is the start of a new era, a major milestone: our firstborn starts primary school. It is her official first day of school in Australia. How amazing is that. One day, she’s a baby. The next day, she’s off to school on her own.

She attended 3-year-old and 4-year-old kindergarten these past two year but only once and thrice a week, respectively. The latter cut short because of the pandemic. Those are the standards in the state’s education system.

Being newly arrived migrants in Melbourne with the Visa 189, learning how the education system works around here takes time. From where I came from, children as young as three years old are sent to school full-time five times a week, four to eight hours a day.

How to start primary school

Even before your child turns five, you can begin searching for schools and communicate with the school principals. Most schools accepts enrolment around six months before the start of school year. For schools that receive a huge number of applications due to reputation and ratings, they accept a year before or even two.

Enrolling your child

With government schools, you can enrol if you are residing with a two-mile radius around the school’s location. This is called school catchment or school zoning. You can refer to this website to see your own school catchment areas by postcode.

Depending on the school, you can submit an expression of interest or directly enrol via website or personal. Once your application is received, you will be invited for an interview with the principal and for a school tour.

Attending orientations or tours

Once everything goes well, you can expect placement for your child. And you will receive communications from school regarding school uniforms, school tours, teacher meet ups, and classroom visit.

When attending orientations or tours, the whole family can see for themselves the classrooms and talk with the teachers.

Where to buy school uniforms

Each school in Victoria has a school uniform required. There are different sets to be worn depending on the weather or season. As school year starts always on summer here in Australia which is January or February, students are required to wear appropriate summer clothes.

Normally, each school nominates a store where the families can buy school uniforms with the school logo. This can be expensive and goes around $30-$60 based on our personal experience.

According to this government research, the average cost of a basic sports uniform (excluding footwear) in the sampled schools was $106.72 for primary schools and $162.58 for secondary schools.

To save on money, you can the ones with the logo from the school-nominated stores. For clothes that require no logo such as trackpants, skorts, and shorts from major stores like Target, Kmart, Best and Less, or Big W.

School uniforms that require a logo on it are summer dressed for girls, polo shirts for boy, and especially the hat.

Depending on the school regulations, the winter jacket may need to have a logo on it. Always ask your school.

Lunch box

And here we are, the school lunch box!

Kids are encouraged to bring only healthy food and snacks to school. Chocolates, juices, and candies are big no-no.

One of my favorite lunch boxes are the bento types where I can find divisions for each family group. They are very easy to clean which plus points for mom. The kid loves it which is the most important thing alright?

Click on the image below to start shopping your own bento lunch boxes.

Final thoughts

Victoria has a plethora of great schools and universities. But it’s a big state and the city of Melbourne itself is a big city of diverse accessibilities: train, bus, or driving. Proximity to schools, especially to schools that you really want for your child, is of key importance.

Starting primary school in Victoria is not that complex once you get to understand and learn how the education system works. But for a newly arrived migrant, everything is practically new. And this is just primary school. All the best for secondary schools.

Friends who have been around here for a while suggests that for primary schools, it may not be a deal-breaker for the children. But secondary school is serious business as their performance and VCE scores determines their acceptance eligibility for particular universities.

For now, let’s tap our back moms with getting enrolled in that primary school. Secondary schools, you are next.

Now where’s that wine?

Download our Free PDF for Starting School Checklists below

school lunch planner
starting school checklist
starting school checklist