I have been confused by the school system here but have never gotten around figuring it out. Until today. That is because little Albany is going to school from tomorrow onward. We enrolled her at a public school within a walking distance from where we live. I was told by lots of people that the suburb I am living in is a bad one. You know, high crime rate (debunked), high presence of Muslim and Aborigines community etc. the usual shit. In general, Asian (actually probably Singaporean) parents tend to avoid sending their kids to schools within suburbs with such reputations. Not me. These are totally fine by me. Will not be moving to Canningvale (New Singapore) because of these.
So forward and onward, Albany shall attend the public-independent school within walking distance, because it is within walking distance. I have no idea what is the difference between a normal public school and a public-independent school. All I know is I cannot afford to send my kids to private schools. So any public school will suffice, especially so since the school Albany is going to is one I have been driving past every day on my way home from work. No unruly school children, or idiots darting onto service roads abutting the school like what we used to do during our Primary School days in Singapore. The school compound is old but large and spacious. Facilities are well maintained so the age of school doesn't matter.
I shall share what I learnt, it may come useful for any clueless parents of young kids coming my way.
The batch of children for each intake has a cut-off date on the 1st of July, so registration for school will take place by June/July. This is unlike in Singapore where we simply took in a batch from 1st Jan to 31 Dec. I am not sure what is the purpose of such arrangement. I have heard comments from slightly annoyed Singaporean parents who lamented that their kids are "slower" because they are born after the 1st of July and have to start school 1 year later then their age equivalence peers in Singapore. Duh. Oh come on. Anyway, this is what I figured out how it should look like:
4-5 years old - "Kindy" (It is a non-compulsory level, 5 days/fortnight)
5-6 years old - "Pre-school"
6-7 years old - "Year 1"
7-8 years old - "Year 2" and so on
Parents are encouraged to to do "voluntary contributions" to the school. That is a polite way of putting things because parents have to contribute somehow because it is for the implementation and resourcing of additional programs carried out during the year. Let's just regard it as school fees for simplicity's sake.
The cost of contribution is $60 per child per year for this school. Some schools only require $50, the others may be more or less but the variance should not be too high across all public schools. Private schools though, you don't want to know. If you are filthy rich to consider sending all your kids to private schools, you probably don't care about that extra $1000 difference across different schools anyway.
Some schools require children to attend school in official uniform (pretty much like Singapore schools). Other schools only require children to come in similar coloured clothing. Since this school allows us to clad Albany in own clothes, we opted out of buying the official uniform with the school logo. Besides, we will have to move her to another neighbourhood school when we shift house in a few month's time. So old uniforms will not be reusable due to difference in colour.
The cost of official uniform with logo for this school:
$40-$50 a set for Summer (depending on what you choose among shorts/skorts/skirt)
$50-$65 a set for Winter (price difference between hooded wear or jacket)
$15 for a broadbrim hat
shoes and socks (no logos)
All these items are compulsory, including the hat since they have a "No hat, no (outdoor) play" policy.
The cost of "uncoded" uniform (that we opted for)
$9 a set for Summer
$20 a set for Winter
$6 for a broadbrim hat
$9 a pair of shoes
$1 a pair of socks
Each level will be given a list of recommended stationery to use for the year. For this level, it cost us $64.70 for the entire lot.
Uniform: $80 (2 sets)
School bag: Free
Lunch box: $5.00
The cost of raising a kid is very high indeed. How does that compare to Singapore at this level though? I don't have the figures.