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Need some advice from the wise EB'ers :)


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#1 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 07:16 AM

EDIT: Update is on page 7 :) we found a home and school .. but now I have another worry which I've posted on page 7.

Hi everyone,

There is a possibility that my family and I may be moving to Canberra in the new year so wanted to get some advice and insight on suburbs and schools specifically, as the last time I lived there, I was in primary school. We currently live in Sydney.

Family consists of me, DH and DS who will be in year 4 next year. If we were to move, our place of work would be in Belconnen so I am concentrating on suburbs surrounding Belconnen or Belconnen itself - wanting to limit the commute time as much as possible.  It would be a long term move so essentially we would be buying a home: 2 bedroom unit/townhouse/villa style.

I do want to base our choice on the school as putting DS in a good school is our main priority. He has been attending a private/Christian school and has an affiliation with the Christian faith but we would like to try out a public school for him. DS is academically focused, inquisitive in nature, a bookworm and mature for his age. He is in the top 5 of his class and currently does extension classes. He is also an introvert and only opens up once he gets to know you (then you won't be able to get him to shut up haha!).

With that background, could someone recommend me a good public school I could consider sending my DS to? I am wanting:

● small school, small class sizes. Would prefer no composite classes
● focus is on learning, academic achievement and motivating those who perform at a higher level
● zero tolerance to bullying and school is proactive in resolving any bullying issues
● community spirit

I was looking at two schools in particular: Latham Primary School and Giralang Primary School. Could anyone share insight/experiences with those schools?

If it is confirmed we are moving, then we will take a trip down to Canberra and see for ourselves but just wanted to get some information now to get an idea :)

Thanks everyone!

Edited by pinkandgold, 09 January 2016 - 09:09 AM.


#2 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 07:29 AM

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

#3 4kids mostlysane

Posted 18 November 2015 - 07:46 AM

Hi Pinkandgold

I live further north (In Gungahlin) so I can't help you with any advice in regard to those two school.  If you don't get any takers here try the Facebook page"Canberra Mums" and there are always lots of people with lots of opinions there ;) Given that your son is in Year 4 I'd also be looking at High Schools too as it's not that far away :laugh:

Best of luck with the move !

#4 BadCat

Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:04 AM

My kids went through Latham Primary.  The youngest is in year 9 now so it's a few years ago and things may have changed.

Both of my kids are bright introverts who need extension classes.

My experience with Latham was good and bad.  It was a nice school with a good community spirit and the facilities are decent.  

There wasn't a lot of bullying going on, but what there was was not dealt with very well.  My DD ended up spending a lot of time out of class because it was easier for them than trying to deal with the group of boys who bullied her.

There was little in the way of extension and I ended up going in and teaching extension Maths myself as a volunteer.  

They did do ICAS competitions, Rostrum speaking comps, bulding competitions... actually quite a lot of competitions in the end, and they presented results at assembly.  So they did celebrate achievement.

From discussions with other parents in other schools it seems our experience was pretty typical.  Most schools in Canberra are pretty good but I don't know of any that cater really well to extension students.  But then, I couldn't guarantee that private schools do either.  I once had a teacher ask if I could tutor her advanced child because his very expensive and well regarded private school was not catering for his extension needs.

Anyway, as I said, this is going back a few years and the principal and most of the teachers have changed now so it might be quite different.

As far as suburbs, if work is in Belco then anywhere in Belco is going to be a maximum of about 10 minutes in a car, 20 on a bus, . If you go for somewhere close to the town centre you'll be close to Canberra High which is generally considered the best high school in Belconnen and catered fairly well to my kids.

Good luck.

#5 NeedSleepNow

Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:12 AM

Hi pinkandgold

Would you consider around Aranda/Bruce/Kaleen. Aranda and Kaleen public schools are usually very well regarded in Canberra, and I believe Kaleen has an extension program. Those suburbs are also very close to Belconnen, but have the advantage of being very central to the city/other areas as well.

Neither of my two have hit school yet, so don't have any personal experience sorry!

#6 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:19 AM

View Postmummyofour, on 18 November 2015 - 07:46 AM, said:

Hi Pinkandgold

I live further north (In Gungahlin) so I can't help you with any advice in regard to those two school.  If you don't get any takers here try the Facebook page"Canberra Mums" and there are always lots of people with lots of opinions there ;) Given that your son is in Year 4 I'd also be looking at High Schools too as it's not that far away :laugh:

Best of luck with the move !

Thank you!!
And thanks for the suggestion,  I will check out that FB page :)

#7 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:23 AM

View PostBadCat, on 18 November 2015 - 08:04 AM, said:

My kids went through Latham Primary.  The youngest is in year 9 now so it's a few years ago and things may have changed.

Both of my kids are bright introverts who need extension classes.

My experience with Latham was good and bad.  It was a nice school with a good community spirit and the facilities are decent.  

There wasn't a lot of bullying going on, but what there was was not dealt with very well.  My DD ended up spending a lot of time out of class because it was easier for them than trying to deal with the group of boys who bullied her.

There was little in the way of extension and I ended up going in and teaching extension Maths myself as a volunteer.  

They did do ICAS competitions, Rostrum speaking comps, bulding competitions... actually quite a lot of competitions in the end, and they presented results at assembly.  So they did celebrate achievement.

From discussions with other parents in other schools it seems our experience was pretty typical.  Most schools in Canberra are pretty good but I don't know of any that cater really well to extension students.  But then, I couldn't guarantee that private schools do either.  I once had a teacher ask if I could tutor her advanced child because his very expensive and well regarded private school was not catering for his extension needs.

Anyway, as I said, this is going back a few years and the principal and most of the teachers have changed now so it might be quite different.

As far as suburbs, if work is in Belco then anywhere in Belco is going to be a maximum of about 10 minutes in a car, 20 on a bus, . If you go for somewhere close to the town centre you'll be close to Canberra High which is generally considered the best high school in Belconnen and catered fairly well to my kids.

Good luck.

Thanks so much for your detailed response :)
My DS sounds a lot like your kids and "bright introvert" would be spot on. Extension classes would be really important for us or even if he was given different work at his level. So essentially we need a school that can cater to bright kids also.

I have been thinking of high school also and we are interested in Canberra High School.

Thanks again for your feedback.

#8 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:24 AM

View PostNeedSleepNow, on 18 November 2015 - 08:12 AM, said:

Hi pinkandgold

Would you consider around Aranda/Bruce/Kaleen. Aranda and Kaleen public schools are usually very well regarded in Canberra, and I believe Kaleen has an extension program. Those suburbs are also very close to Belconnen, but have the advantage of being very central to the city/other areas as well.

Neither of my two have hit school yet, so don't have any personal experience sorry!

Yep, any suburb surrounding Belconnen really :) and obviously if there's any properties available in that suburb.
I will have a look at Kaleen. Thanks!

#9 magalee

Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:45 AM

My brother now lives in Giralang (and was in Kaleen for about 10 years before that) and he was able to get his DS into Kaleen Primary School.  He's in year 1 now and is going really great and they love it.

Apparently it is a highly sought after school and has a Japanese program.  His DS is half-Japanese so this was something they were really keen on.

I don't know the full details but apparently it is hard to get into if you are out of area (even from a close by suburb), so you might want to ensure that you are in the catchment area if you are renting/buying.  I think Kaleen is a great suburb and great if you are working in Belconnen.

Best of luck with your move!

#10 Jingleflea

Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:16 AM

About the commute time, I can go from one end of Canberra to the other in about 40 minutes, so commute times really aren't that bad.
Of course, if you are born and bred here, that 40 minutes is SUCH A LONG DRIVE!

#11 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:26 AM

View Postmagalee, on 18 November 2015 - 08:45 AM, said:

My brother now lives in Giralang (and was in Kaleen for about 10 years before that) and he was able to get his DS into Kaleen Primary School.  He's in year 1 now and is going really great and they love it.

Apparently it is a highly sought after school and has a Japanese program.  His DS is half-Japanese so this was something they were really keen on.

I don't know the full details but apparently it is hard to get into if you are out of area (even from a close by suburb), so you might want to ensure that you are in the catchment area if you are renting/buying.  I think Kaleen is a great suburb and great if you are working in Belconnen.

Best of luck with your move!

Thank you for your response. Do u know if Kaleen is a big school due to its popularity?

#12 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:29 AM

View PostMarchioness Flea, on 18 November 2015 - 09:16 AM, said:

About the commute time, I can go from one end of Canberra to the other in about 40 minutes, so commute times really aren't that bad.
Of course, if you are born and bred here, that 40 minutes is SUCH A LONG DRIVE!

Coming from Sydney and doing a 50 minute commute one way, Canberra would be a dream! Wanting not anymore than 20 minutes one way.

#13 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:32 AM

View PostLunaMombie, on 18 November 2015 - 08:52 AM, said:

Aranda, Macquarie, cook and parts of bruce are all zoned to canberra high.  You can see school zoning on the all homes website.  I don't know if its hard to get into canberra high from outside the zoned area.  You can apply to any public school in canberra, but some schools are at capacity and don't accept anyone from outside zone.  If you're in zone (and it's not a dual zoned area) they must accept you.  The primaries in these suburbs are Macquarie primary (cook, Macquarie and some Bruce kids go here) and Aranda primary which doesn't usually accept people from outside Aranda as its always at capacity.  People actually rent a second house in zone to get into Aranda.  Both primaries have very good reputations.  Our kids are under school age so I have no personal experience of either school.  These suburbs are all very close to belconnen and the city.  They're a lot more expensive then latham or giralang.  Macquarie is the cheapest of the three, but cook has some 10-15 year old townhouses at the Macquarie edge of cook (cheaper side) that are quite reasonably priced.  We moved to Aranda last year so dd and ds can go to Aranda primary and then Canberra high, but we could have got a much nicer house for our money in kaleen/giralang/latham.  We bought here because of good schools and quick public transport to city where dh works.

Thanks for that! I will check out those suburbs.
Anyone know if its hard to get into Canberra High outside of zone and what the requirements would be?

#14 Jingleflea

Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:38 AM

I can get from Tuggeranong to Dunlop in 45 minutes, not peak hour though.
And my husband catches the express bus in from here to Civic in 40 minutes or so at 7.30 in the morning.

#15 magalee

Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:44 AM

View Postpinkandgold, on 18 November 2015 - 09:26 AM, said:

Thank you for your response. Do u know if Kaleen is a big school due to its popularity?

I think it has around 450-500 kids, so not small but it has the programs.  My advice is to visit a few in the area and get a feel for them, only you know what will fit your DS best.

As far as I know there are no composite classes - but I could be wrong. Check out their website.

My nephew would have gone to Giralang if they didn't get into Kaleen.  Great area to live in.

#16 BadCat

Posted 18 November 2015 - 09:49 AM

View Postpinkandgold, on 18 November 2015 - 09:32 AM, said:

Thanks for that! I will check out those suburbs.
Anyone know if its hard to get into Canberra High outside of zone and what the requirements would be?

It's usually not too hard to get into Canberra High from out of area.  For kids out of area it's first in best dressed, so I always made sure to put the forms in on day one.  But I know people who've left it much later and gotten in.  Probably a quarter of the kids there are out of area.  It's gotten a little bit busier in the last couple of years but still not that hard.

There are zero requirements.  Put in your form early and if there is room when they get to your name you are in.

They do an Inpsire program for extension which is pretty good.  It's just done as a higher level of work within the classroom, usually just on assignments and stuff.  And Inspire students do a philosophy group where they get together to talk about all kins of interesting things.  It helps kids see that most issues are not black and white by talking about morality, ethics, politics etc from different points of view.  DD really enjoyed philosophy. DS not so much.  He's not much of a debater and the debate in the group can get quite spirited once the kids warm up a bit.

#17 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 10:36 AM

I think Kaleen might be out for us as I looked on allhomes and no properties available that meet our criteria: 2 bedder and our budget is $350k max for a 2 bedder :/

School is definitely important but have to see if there's properties available too :(

I am really appreciating everyone's responses so far! Thanks so much!

View Postmagalee, on 18 November 2015 - 09:44 AM, said:



I think it has around 450-500 kids, so not small but it has the programs.  My advice is to visit a few in the area and get a feel for them, only you know what will fit your DS best.

As far as I know there are no composite classes - but I could be wrong. Check out their website.

My nephew would have gone to Giralang if they didn't get into Kaleen.  Great area to live in.

Not big at all! DS' s current school has about 600-700 kids.

#18 MumOfThreenager

Posted 18 November 2015 - 10:49 AM

View Postpinkandgold, on 18 November 2015 - 10:36 AM, said:

I think Kaleen might be out for us as I looked on allhomes and no properties available that meet our criteria: 2 bedder and our budget is $350k max for a 2 bedder :/

I think most of Canberra will be out of that budget! Houses here are pretty expensive, not as bad as Sydney, but not cheap either.

#19 regandrog

Posted 18 November 2015 - 10:52 AM

There's the new suburb Lawson that is just starting to get buildings/houses which is next to Kaleen.
If you were happy to rent and then buy there would be townhouses available, no idea on the cost though.

#20 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 11:01 AM

View Postprovable, on 18 November 2015 - 10:49 AM, said:



I think most of Canberra will be out of that budget! Houses here are pretty expensive, not as bad as Sydney, but not cheap either.

Definitely cheaper than Sydney.

I saw some 2 bedders in Belconnen district for under $350k. We put our budget as $350k max as I dont think its worth it to pay more than that for a small 2 bedder :( We are minimalists and low maintenance so prefer this living arrangement.

#21 BadCat

Posted 18 November 2015 - 11:05 AM

View Postprovable, on 18 November 2015 - 10:49 AM, said:

I think most of Canberra will be out of that budget! Houses here are pretty expensive, not as bad as Sydney, but not cheap either.

Not really.

You can get a 2 bedroom unit or townhouse in the Belconnen area for under that easily.

A quick search on allhomes reveals quite a few.

These units are super popular and get snapped up really fast.  They are about 100m from Latham Primary.  There is a big oval attached to the school, or you are about 50m in the opposite direction to walking trails around the creek at Umbagong Park.

http://www.allhomes....a/1317107651311

#22 MumOfThreenager

Posted 18 November 2015 - 11:09 AM

View PostBadCat, on 18 November 2015 - 11:05 AM, said:

Not really.

You can get a 2 bedroom unit or townhouse in the Belconnen area for under that easily.

A quick search on allhomes reveals quite a few.

These units are super popular and get snapped up really fast.  They are about 100m from Latham Primary.  There is a big oval attached to the school, or you are about 50m in the opposite direction to walking trails around the creek at Umbagong Park.

http://www.allhomes....a/1317107651311

My mistake! That looks like a very nice unit too :)

#23 MumOfThreenager

Posted 18 November 2015 - 11:14 AM

View PostLunaMombie, on 18 November 2015 - 11:10 AM, said:

There's not much in that price range that isn't apartments.
Canberra is cheaper than central syndey but it doesn't have the really cheap outer suburbs and average house price is high.  

That's kinda what I was trying to say but you expressed it better...

#24 pinkandgold

Posted 18 November 2015 - 11:17 AM

View PostLunaMombie, on 18 November 2015 - 11:10 AM, said:

There's not much in that price range that isnt apartments.

All good as we are looking for apartments :) if we could get a townhouse or villa in our budget than that would be a bonus but we are happy with an apartment.

#25 just roses

Posted 18 November 2015 - 01:28 PM

My experience is a million years old but I went to Macquarie Primary (lived very close to school) and then to Canberra High. It was an easy bike ride to high school and Macquarie was a really nice suburb to live in. Like I said, though, a million years ago!




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