Thinking about school options

“I wanted him to go to a regular school and his older siblings were already at this school. We were happy with this school already.”

Ying , mother of Alan


When you have considered your child’s personality, learning styles, learning needs and interests, think about your whole family’s needs:

  • Do you have other children? If you would like all your children to attend the same school, consider siblings and the suitability of the school for them.
  • How closely is the school linked with your local community?
  • Are there opportunities for parent and family involvement with the school?
  • What is the availability of before and after school care if needed?
  • How easy is it to travel between home, school and your workplace (if appropriate)?
  • Do you have a preference for public or private education?
  • Do you need access to before and or after school care and/or vacation care? If so, click here to go to the Child Care Service Directory to find out where out of school hours (OOSH) care services are located in your area or call the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305.
What are the options?

There are three different education systems:

  • public or government schools
  • Catholic schools
  • independent or private schools

Each system differs in the way they provide support to students with a disability.

In general, Catholic and independent schools support children with disabilities in regular mainstream classes. There are also Catholic special schools and support classes in some areas.

Public schools may offer a number of different options for supporting children with disabilities. For more information about mainstream public schools, support classes, and special schools, in NSW click here.

Start locally

The professionals who work with your child will know your child and family and may know of schools which you might like to consider within your local area. It may also be helpful to talk to friends and neighbours.

“Our Early Childhood Intervention Service were great on a personal level (when we were looking at school options) … I attended a seminar about school options with reps from each education sector and a parent representative. Hearing from a parent was the most valuable thing in terms of hearing that I needed to really look at my own child’s needs.”

Mattie, mother of Justin

Public Schools
It is every child’s right to attend their local public school.

There are many advantages to attending your local school. There will be children within your local community who attend the same school and if you have other children they can also attend that school.
The first point of contact for all types of public school options is your local public school.

Public School Locator for all

States and Territories

Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
Queensland
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia

It may possible to apply for a school for which is not in your local area. This can be done after you have made contact with your local school. The principal of your local school can help you to do this.

For more information about enrolling your child in a NSW public school click here.

Catholic Schools
If you are interested in your child attending a Catholic School, your first point of contact should be the principal of your local Parish school. It is possible to apply for a Catholic School outside your local area, however, the first place to start is with your local Parish school.

Catholic school locator for all states and territories
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
Queensland
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia

There are also Catholic special schools and support classes in some areas.

Click here for a list of Catholic special schools in NSW.

Independent Schools
If you are interested in your child attending an independent school, you will need to contact the individual school directly. Ask for a prospectus to be sent to you with information about the school and if you are interested in applying for the school, make an appointment to meet with the principal.

Independent school locator for all states and territories
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
Queensland
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia

There are also a number of independent special schools and support classes in NSW. Click here for more information.

Distance education
Is for students who are geographically isolated or whose special circumstances prevent them from attending school on a regular basis.
Click here for more information on distance education in NSW.

Home schooling
Parents or guardians who choose home schooling for their child must be registered by their state or territory teaching and education authority e.g. Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) in NSW. Parents must accept responsibility for developing, implementing and evaluating their child's learning programme.

Click here for more information on home schooling in NSW.

See also Approaching a school for the first time.