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Found 11 results

  1. There seem to be a few questions on here about Primary Schools in ACT and we have just gone through the process of researching, visiting and choosing a school so I though I would share my findings with anyone who is interested I did a load of research first from the UK in terms of "good" schools - alot of info came from this forum and alot came from other forums. I have a son who is gifted in Maths so I really wanted a good school for him. I do think you need to visit the schools when you get here if you can and alot of this can be arranged before you get here. Its well worth the time. I printed off a map of Canberra and put it next to my computer and shaded areas where there were the "target" schools and their catchment. I shaded area private schools differently. Jut this visual aid helped in me narrowing where we may be looking for housing and also allowed me to further research commute times and bus routes.... The list of schools I visited were: Gov schools: Curtin Primary North Ainslie Aranda Kaleen Torrens Private schools visited: Emmaus Christian School Holy Trinity , Curtin St Peter and St Paul, Garran Montsorri, Holder Girls Grammar School I wanted to visit more. Garran and Chapman Gov schools will not let you visit unless you have a confirmed place to live and paperwork to prove it in their Catchment. They must get innundated! Both are EXCELLENT schools with excellent NAPLAN results but I could not visit them. If we decided to live in either of these areas we were prepared to take a chance on the schools but nothing happened to be suitable and available at the time and this is a key thing as the rental market here is a nightmare. Will maybe post findings on this separately if people are interested. There were more private schools I also wanted to visit but they were full and therefore did not want even a speculative visit for going onto a waiting list. You can check the results of a school my going to http://www.myschool.edu.au/ and finding the school you want and clicking on NAPLAN on the left hand side. I would look at results in "numbers" as the graphs and others are confusing. I would also not take the results completely to heart as its a relatively new thing - but I do thnk its fairly good indicator of things and is a good benchmark - some may disagree. I just wanted schools that were above or exceptionally above average in most of the areas tested as this was a promise I made to myself on moving here in that I just wanted an excellent school for my son. All the Gov schools I visited were good and I would not be worried if my son went to any of them however not all were best fit for him - some had an Arts focus and were creative, some focussed on other areas etc...but once I had a short list of favourite schools we narrowed our search on houses to certain areas. I have to say if you look at the "ranking" of the schools I visited, they all had relatively good results so Im not sure how the other schools I did not visit were so cannot comment... All schools in Canberra (and rest of Ox I think) received a massive grant of around $1,5 million dollars when the world went into recession, to inject money into the local building trade so they all have a new gymnasium, library or hall or something. This applied also to private schools. In comparison to the Private schools, I would say places like the grammar school are in a class of their own but I did not choose it as they had this strange policy of wanting to put my already advanced son back a year into Pre School instead of Kindergarten which is where his age allows him to be, simply because he was a boy and therefore may not be "mature" enough!. Im sure if I pushed it they would have said ok to Kinder but it was not for us in the end.. I really liked Emmaus and have put both my kids on the waiting list there and my son will go to North Ainslie in the meantime. Some private schools are definately better - just better equipped, better results, seem better organised, facilities are newer and the libraries are lovely. That said Torrens primary had a gorgeous library and I though this was an EXCELLENT government school and was definately in my short list and would have chosen this over some of the private schools I saw. its all a matter of taste and what your child needs. The problem with the very good private schools is that they all have MASSIVE waiting lists and I mean a 2 - 3 years long at least and so we did not have any choice. If I did I would have chosen Emmaus. I like Holy Trinity Catholic school in Curtin but Curtin Primary which is a government school was just as good in some ways (if a bit chaotic). If we lived in Curtin I would have chosen Holy Trinity simply on the fact that it was smaller in size but eveything else was the same and Curtin has a good "gifted" scheme. When we arrived we looked at houses in ALL areas (except Tuggeranong) and we looked at things like commute to Civic/public transport as well as the area of the shortlisted schools. We loved the space in the massive houses in Gunghalin but when I did some research, the schools results near to houses we looked at were not great, this was only in a few of the suburbs and we decided it was too far so did not research too many of the areas here.. We wanted to try and get away with having one car (Cars are EXPENSIVE) hence choosing the Inner North in the end. We liked Belconnnen and looked in Aranda but no houses came up in the time we were here and looking and I think this is what you also need to consider. I think you need to have a few areas to consider as had we found a house in Aranda we also would have moved there.. but nothing came up.. My husband came on a 457 visa and we were advised my Saskia Hancock at the Dept of Education here that unless we were on the SOL list, we would have to pay an annual fee of 9.9K$ for going to government school. Some private schools are cheaper (the catholic ones) but the problem in some of the good ones is getting a place. Holy Trinity, St Peter and St Paul had space, Radford who I approached did not, Emmaus does not, St Josephs who I approached did not... There are many which do have space of course but you will find that the ones with excellent results will not (much like the UK) As it happened, my husbands work is on the SOL list so once we had found a property on a long term rental, we emailed Saskia Hancock stating we wanted to register Ethan at North Ainslie as we were in the catchment. She issued us a waiver, told the school of this and we enrolled him directly with the school. It is worth taking time to research and people talk about more than 50% of the population put their kids in Private schools and this may scare lots of people off and make you think that the gov schools are terrible. I do think you have to chose carefully and do your research. Definately some gov schools have problem kids there who may have been chucked out of all the local private schools... and this is a difference in that gov schools have to take kids in their area even if they are full and cannot select whereas the private system can. Look at the demographics of the area, the houses etc..I think this is often a good indication of the school overall. Definately the facilities in the private school are better, but there are good gov schools. Most private schools have lower fees also than the government imposed $10K. (The grammar is around 11K so you may as well consider this if you have to pay the gov fee. private schools are generally around 2-4K a year so not that expensive. Just find a good one that has a spot. Hope all this helps...happy to answer any questions Angela
  2. pintpot

    Sydney first impressions.....

    …..are generally very positive I’ll start with the obvious; the weather. I can really see myself lapping up the much warmer climate. It’s only spring so not seriously hot yet, but the strength of the sun means shade makes a real difference, and there’s often a nice cooling breeze. I like the way the city is designed around the need for shade, with lots of covered areas, verandas, big overhangs, loads of mature trees. Pretty sure it will get uncomfortably hot sometimes but there’s usually an escape. I was here in June and I know I can easily live with the Sydney “winter” too. Then there’s the effect of the weather. “Outdoor lifestyle” is a cliché but it’s because it’s true – people really do spend a lot of time out of doors, on beaches, in parks, eating out (and outside), playing sports, family activities. Even prosaic stuff like shopping and hanging out. There’s much less impression of people outside being involved in going from inside point A to inside point B. Hard to describe but it makes a massive difference to atmosphere. We’ve been here a week and I’ve been swimming twice in an outdoor pool, visited three parks with my family to play on playgrounds and chuck Frisbees, been to the beach twice, and I’ve still fitted in 3 trips to the gym. Granted I don’t have to work just yet (start Monday) but it’s way more activity then I’d do at home. The weather, the facilities, the atmosphere and the general attitude of people to outdoor activity positively encourage it. Which leads me on to facilities. Generally I’m extremely surprised, and pleasantly so, by the level of facilities offered by local councils – parks, libraries and the like seem very well funded and maintained meticulously. Even though Sydneysiders like to slag off public transport, again it seems to work pretty well to me. The roads are a bit ropey, mind People seem pretty friendly, too – although it’s early days. I’m a great believer that you make your own fortune in this department and if you’re open, warm and friendly to others you’ll get plenty of reciprocation. I’m also seriously impressed (with a nod back to outdoor lifestyle) about how healthy (and health conscious) people seem. Way less fatties than you see back in the UK, *much* less smoking visible (you see hardly anyone smoking in the street), lots of moving about, lots of healthy options in restaurants and to some extent supermarkets. Supermarkets/grocery shops are a bit of an odd one. I suppose the thing that encourages healthy eating the most is the lack of pre-made, packaged, processed foods especially ready meals. You kind of don’t have any choice but to make things from fresh (or frozen) ingredients, which is fine by me. In that respect (and others) grocery shopping feels a bit like going back to the 1980s at home (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing). There’s much less choice, many more independent shops especially butchers, greengrocers, bakers and fishmongers (good). Fresh produce *looks* good in the main and there’s tons of it, but you have to buy seasonal (good, we’ve lost this in the UK) and there are a fe practices I think are old fashioned not in a good way – like the routine waxing of lots of fruit to make it look good. Juice is fantastic, fresh meat seems decent (not convinced it’s mile better quality like some do mind) and reasonable, fish excellent……on the flipside good cheese, whilst it does exist, is much harder to come by and expensive. The beer is awful but then I knew it would be. Overall we’re finding grocery shopping to be about 30-40% more expensive than at home, but we’ve bought quite a few things where it’s a lot pricier (like washing powder/liquid) and haven’t really learned our way around the brands yet. People seem to do a lot of buying of bargains and special offers – again it feels a bit 1980s in that respect. It seems like a much less rampantly consumerist society than the UK has become, which is refreshing, I hope it stays like that. Shops close at a sensible hour rather than stay open all the time, so at least staff can get a decent deal; and the economy hopefully isn’t too skewed by an obsession with consumption as it is a bit at home. Other shopping we’ve been pleasantly surprised by – heard lots of horror stories about clothes and shoes but don’t find them expensive or lacking in quality and range at all – quite the reverse. We’re quite enjoying finding our way around the many different shops and brands to learn what we like. Other stuff – I’m loving the Sydney Morning Herald. Good writing, and good business and sport sections every day make me very happy. I thought I would find a regional paper odd, but I don’t; its coverage of wider Australia and global news is actually pretty damn good Not a lot of negatives so far then – it’s only really the price of some things, and that’s made to feel expensive by the exchange rate. It won’t take me long to think in dollars, not so sure about the wife…;-) Oh yeah, whilst traffic is just about bearable if you pick your time/route, road signage is hopeless and driving standards pretty variable. And Aussie officialdom doesn’t half love a notice telling you what you can (or more often can’t) do. And the beer is rubbish, did I mention that? I’ve been here a few times but mostly on holidays or short business trips and always liked it; On encountering more aspects of real life I’m glad that impression seems to be getting reinforced rather than diluted. We’re looking forward to our lives here :biggrin: Next stop, trying to find a house. Relocator is taking us to see 11 tomorrow, so fingers crossed!
  3. what was your first impressions of pio--and to the older members whats your impressions of pio now--also to the people who view pio without joining in what are your impressions of pio---have a say--ive been a member for a while now,and my first impressions where, isnt it a chatty place with heaps of charactors on it (also a place to get help,and understanding)--now i have the same view of pio but feel more at ease with getting to know people--ive found heaps of friends on pio,and have learned a great deal from them--plus im wiser to the needs of people:wubclub:--so what do you think--its an open forum so please be open
  4. Some of us have a reccie or two, some go in blind, some have researched until the cows come home. And I guess this thread is a little self indulgent, as I remember it to this day, the excitement, adrenaline rush, complete awe I felt as a spotty 17 year old when I first set foot in Australia, (well, the first two or three days anyway) and I must admit I still get the same rush whenever I set foot in the place again, no matter where it is.:yes: The buildings, smells, sun, people, just the drive from the airport to where I am staying still to this day gives me a huge rush unlike any other, (with the possible exception of Bonefishing,:jiggy:). Very difficult to put into words how I feel every time I land in Australia, it is something fairly strange and a little weird, but hopefully some of you will know what I mean. So in essence, what are/were your first impressions, (within the first day or so) or were you just to knackered to even think about it,:yes:. Cheers Tony.:wink:
  5. I hope this thread will in some way help, maybe, but on the whole I hope it helps, makes us laugh, and some 'reasoned' debate. Basically, it would be great to know your 'impressions' of Australia BEFORE you had any experience of it, and secondly, once you had been there for a while. Our thoughts and ideas of Australia are as individual as each one of us, but thought it would be worth a chat, I'll go first. IMPRESSIONS BEFORE ARRIVAL. 1. Sun 2. Beach 3. Spiders 4. Sport 5. Beer 6. Fishing 7. Huge 8. Aboriginals 9. Snakes 10. More Sun IMPRESSIONS ONCE THERE 1. Sun 2. Huge 3. Pride 4. Work 5. Dangers Of Sun 6. Fishing 7. New 8. Atmosphere 9. Mateship 10. Friendliness They are my top 10 in each category, they are in no particular order. But you can see from my first impressions my outlook soon changed, and was a surprise to me. Only four of my original impressions are included in my second list. I'm not saying the first ten were inconsequential at the time, but after having experienced Australia for many years I can see how wrong I was on a number of things. Cheers Tony.:wink:
  6. Guest

    First Impressions..

    I'm curious as to folks impressions of Australia when first arrived in particular after reading forums, doing research and everything else on the migrants journey. Really for those who have arrived and in Oz or recently returned and left if open ended. For me - its probably what I had thought it was going to be like - with Perth being alot colder in winter than expected. (I originally arrived with a t-shirt in Sept and it was about 4 degrees and raining! - First shopping trip was for a jumper!) T
  7. These are some initial findings: Overall * amazingly friendly and helpful people * staff in shops are great and knowledgable * transport works better but some grafetti, less in perth. * much less crime and better safety generally. * THINGS COST THE SAME OR MORE. ! most places/off licences, the wine costs 10 quid and more for a local bottle of wine * we are here in winter, we start of, but the fruit and veg is expensive and pretty narrow, all the fruits in coles are bananas oranges and apples. Anything else is something like 3-5 quid (GBP). Almonds for example from australia are actually more expensive for 100g than the UK. Perth * place is huge on parks, amazing beaches, lots of sun! * houses are just better than melbourne. lots of new developments * CBD is tiny compared to melbourne * great roads for driving. * parks look like they come from disney land they are that well kept * sorry, but seeing lots of scanty glad girls! maybe it comes with beach lifestyle Melbourne * lots of character * cold! but ok, livable * great old places for shopping and wonderful looking university * trams are fun although somewhat slow * traffic heavy in places and roads much harder to drive on than perth * huge CBD compared to perth * more goth than anything else, a bit more class in that regard compared to perth * lots and lots of cafes, great little places/towns with character, much more than Perth.
  8. Guest

    My first impressions of Perth

    Thought I would give you my thoughts so far on the Perth area, BEACHES- Amazing, clean, very blue sea! WEATHER- Don't listen to Earl it's bloody hot and dry (or has been for the past 2 weeks!) SUBURBS- Not as 'stepford wives' as I expected- all houses individually designed, not like the identikit estates in UK. Mostly very quiet (the ones I've seen) Some beautiful houses and all a lot bigger than the usual 3 or 4 bed houses in the UK. HOONS- Tyre skid marks everywhere! But strangely haven't seen or heard them?:unsure: THE PEOPLE- Wonderful, friendly, smiley, generous and trusting (on the whole) Only met one shady geezer so far and he was a South African car salesman (no offence) SHOPPING- Brilliant, love Woolworths-loads of bargains to be had lots of 'specials' on a wide range of things that change frequently. Cheap cheap red meat and wine. Packaged goods ie tins etc more expensive than UK. Loving getting my shopping packed for me. OPEN SPACES AND PARKS- A world away from what we are used to- just breath taking to be honest. Lots and lots of green spaces. LOCAL AMENITIES- Each suburb tends to have its own shopping centre/doctors/school/park so you're never far from what you need. All very handy PUBLIC TRANSPORT- Light years ahead of the UK, fast, user friendly, accessable, clean and cheap. CARS- Used cars more expensive but bargain hard and you can still get loads knocked off the price. Haggling is expected. Never pay the price on the windscreen. Lots of amazing looking vehicles around and lots of old 'bangers' too. The utes are something else! So as you can see we can't really think of a whole lot of negative stuff just yet, other than the fact that my family and friends are miles away there's nothing not to like. I'm sure our feelings will change as the months roll on but for now its AWESOME!:jiggy:
  9. Hey Peeps! We made it! We're here! I can't believe it and, so far, I can only report GOOD, GOOD, GOOD stuff! My daughter and I arived on Tuesday 26th and got to our serviced apartments (booked in advance) about 10pm. It is immaculate and I'd thoroughly recommend it if anyone wants to pm me for details. Wednesday we walked the length and breadth of central Melbourne, went on trams, trains, buses, the beach.... you name it, we did it and retired to bed utterly exhausted! Yesterday, I hired a car and whizzed around suburbs viewing houses and sussing out the locals. We have put in an application for a house and I'll tell you all more about that later, if we get it! To sum up, Melbourne is a very good mixture of all the good bits about England, New York and Seoul. Although it is very early days, I know we are going to absolutely love it! The food is amazing - quality of vegetable and so on as well as eating out! If any of you guys are thinking of coming to live inner city, I'd rush out and buy a pair of split toe Nike's forthwith and also get a snappy little rucksack to carry your shoes to work in. Everybody seems to be striding out so purposefully, I felt quite silly in my red ballet flats! Anywho, feel free to bombard me with question.. I'll be logging on regularly again now! Hang on in there to all those waiting for that magic bit of paper... it's DEFINITELY worth it! All the best from Krista Down Under
  10. MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF BRISBANE ARE NOT GOOD - THEY ARE GREAT!!!! Sorry BuckB if you read this! couldn't resist... Bris has been great fun after two weeks. quite clean - good people - and some great food and nightlife. The public transport - while the locals don't rate it - is better and LOADS cheaper than UK. and who can beat a trip across the river on the city cat on your way to work?! on the down side... people from queensland cannot drive - i thought it last time i was here - but this has confirmed it - they need to learn to merge! getting an internet connection here is a nightmare unless you have 100 points and a permanent address - the rental market is poo - and it is loads different to back home where when you want something done it happens.... but every morning i get woken up by a kookaburra; when it rains it is warm; the sun is great; and i smile massively every time i think to myself that i am here... so life seems great!! please take this post in the mode it is meant - just for fun - i am not saying bris is better or worse than anywhere in Oz! A
  11. Well we arrived on January 3rd at 7.30am after a quick hop from Edinburgh to London, a bloody horrible flight from London to Singapore and a great flight from Singapore to Sydney (that new A380 is one hell of a plane!). A quick taxi journey and a shower later we were off out to explore and grab some non airplane food. As probably 99.9% of new arrivals to Sydney do, we headed for The Rocks/Circular Quay and had some breakfast on the harbour side with the bridge in the background. Then we headed round past the Opera House to the Botanics where we sat in the sun/shade for a couple of hours and just stared out over the water trying to soak it all in. The first real surprise and indication of truly being somewhere pretty far away was the hundreds of giant fruit bats hanging from trees on the Botanics. It should be pointed out that I was also totally spaced out at this point having been awake for over 36 hours and having travelled the morning after a combined Hogmany/Goodbye party. I had to check a good few times that I was actually seeing what my brain was telling me. Fantastic! We spent the first few days checking out Chinatown, (by which I mean scoffing every bowl of ramen, pho and noodles that we could get our hands on and topping it off with sushi/sashimi for desert) the CBD, the markets and looking at a few areas we’d been recommended for living. We looked at Paddington first but, despite it being recommended by everybody and their dog, we weren’t that blown away. Next day we went up to Crows Nest and immediately ‘clicked’ with the area, especially the fantastic Willoughby Road and associated eateries. Within 10 days we had moved into a one bedroom unit just 2 minutes walk from Willougby Road and all it has to offer. It is small compared to what we left behind, which we knew that would be the case, but it’s brand new, has a kick ass balcony (one whole side of the apartment slides open!) and a great pool and gym (which I’m actually using….wonders never cease). As it’s only for 6 months it’ll do just nicely. Unfortunately our place at home hasn’t rented yet and that is stretching us pretty thin, but as far as problems go on a global scale it’s a not a bad one to have. Work started on the 7th and has been great so far. I’m on the 8th floor right in the centre of the CBD and have been chucked right in the deep end with several interesting projects from day one. The first week even required a drive up Singleton way through the Hunter Valley, which, for me, is pretty like making a pilgrimage. I stopped and bought wine straight from the vineyard for the first time in my life. It doesn’t get much better than that. My wife hasn’t found a job yet but is through to the second round interviews tomorrow for a great job that she is extremely keen to get. So fingers crossed for that. The food so far has been incredible! Firstly, the choice is staggering. Maybe not so much if you are arriving from London, but for somebody that bit further north it’s really impressive. Everybody is used to Indian, Chinese and Thai, but to add Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese etc to the list is a treat indeed. And that isn’t even touching on the great seafood places, modern Aussie, or any of the other myriad of choices you’re faced with on every street. Secondly, eating out is dirt cheap here. Paying $50 for a good quality and very tasty two course meal for two people with a beer or two each is not something I’m used to. It’s an absolute pleasure. Even at the top end of the scale it’s vastly cheaper than home for the equivalent quality. The biggest surprise has been the quality and cheapness of the markets. Paddy’s Market supplies us with enough fruit and veg for a week for about $25 and that would have cost easily $75-100 at home. No joke. We’ve been gorging on peaches, plums, watermelon, nectarines, avocados (huge!), squash, tomatoes (that have flavour!) and anything else you care to mention. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fruit in my life. For somebody that is into their food and enjoys cooking it’s pretty spectacular. The fish market has also proved to be fantastic (if manically busy) with a huge range that, again, is offered at about half the price of home (take a knife to de-vein you prawns if you’re having lunch though!). We also went along to the North Sydney Produce Market (3rd Saturday of every month) on Millar Street. This place was also great and whiles a lot pricier than other markets, still cheap compared to farmers/organic markets at home. A whole free range organic smoked chicken set me back $18. The same thing at the (excellent) Edinburgh farmers market would have cost me about 25-30 pounds – at least 3 times as much. I also got some fantastic Aussie cheese (ironstone and a blue made with Roquefort cultures). It should be said though that the prices in the supermarkets have so far been very similar to home and vastly more expensive than the places listed above. Handy but pricey. Another important factor for me is finding a great cinema on Military Road (Orpheum), where we saw No Country For Old Men (top notch Coens) and if you sign up for their newsletter by e-mail they send you a bunch of offers from time to time. Just a bit further on is the stunning Balmoral Beach where we went swimming yesterday and lay soaking up the sun……while using a hat, sunscreen, clothing, shade and sunglasses obviously (this announcement brought to you by the Australian Government, Canberra) All in all it’s been a pretty good start. Early days yet obviously, but it certainly gets two big thumbs up for first impressions.