Sydney Gratitude List: School

Phew, it is hard to feel settled when you uproot your family and move across the world. Everything is different and new. It takes time and lots of experiences (good and bad) before it feels like home. I could give you a laundry list of all the things that are wrong at the moment but instead of spewing negativity I’m going to tell you what I do like. I am very grateful for our new primary school and the laid back ways of the system here.

A quote from the website of the local school regarding absences due to family holidays: “exceptional domestic circumstances, including but not limited to participation in family holidays during school term subject to being satisfied that this is in the best educational interests of the child.” Travel is almost always in the best interest of the child educationally, physically and emotionally. I am so grateful that it is perceived that way by the school system. In the UK we had the fear of being fined for taking the kids out of school during term time, no matter the benefit. The rule was the rule—end of discussion. What hogwash!


Birchgrove Public School

In an effort to enrol our children, we originally phoned our local Balmain school which denied us due to being out of their catchment (apparently we are on the border). They referred us to the Rozelle school who we are in catchment for, but were denied again due to our temporary visa (fyi, you pay for public school when you’re in the country on a work visa) and because it was oversubscribed. The principal in Rozelle kindly called the Birchgrove school for us and secured our kids a place. Strangely, it is the closest school to our home and the last one suggested. It was not the most direct path to sort out the school but it ended on a positive note.

After visiting the school and having a tour we were all over the moon about it. It is warmer and more friendly than either of the other two primary schools. They mentioned having an emphasis on music and theatre, however after speaking with other parents and students they are also very athletic. There are interschool competitions which my kids have never experienced, having attended a state school in London. When they go for their swimming lessons (which all aged kids attend) they go from 11am until 3pm. A half day of swimming!

Several times per year there are sleepaway camps…some for an entire week in the bush! Focus in these camps is on music, sports, orienteering, confidence, independence and team building. Super!

Another mum that I recently met also just relocated to the area. She pulled me aside to tell me they are a bit disorganized and I could feel my heart melt. This is the perfect place for us! No wonder everyone is so happy. Structure seems to me to be the end of all things enjoyable. Everyone seemed so easy breezy and this was why.

They do have school uniforms like at home, however they couldn’t care less if the kids show up in their uniform sports kit and trainers every day. As long as it’s a uniform, it’s cool. No tights, no socks and no tying hair back. Happy beaming kids during our uniform shop upon learning this.

James was distraught at having to wear a sun hat that the kids wear here. It is mandatory and they are very serious about kids and sun exposure. No hat in school = no playtime. The traditional hat is called a slouch hat and it kind of makes you look like a mini park ranger. As an alternative they were offered baseball caps. Insert massive smiles here.



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