Public Vs Private School Costs in Brisbane QLD

I'm in a stage where I need to start looking for a reasonable primary school, either public or private, for my little one next year. There are tens of factors I must put into the formula, for example, school fees & costs, housing costs (if we have to move into school catchment), learning and student environment, school reputation, social networking capability etc. While most of these can be found/ranked statistically, I found it's hard to compare overall costs between public vs private schools. Where private schools are very straight forward with all their fees and charges, public schools in QLD I've been looking at, don't have much information about their charges available online.

While my budget for primary years is between minimum to $3,000 per year for private school, I don't have much idea of how much on average it costs for a primary year at a QLD/Brisbane area public school. I've been spoken to some friends, some said public vs private schools are hugely different in terms of costs, but some said they are not much different these days due to public schools tend to have numerous voluntary charges/levies.

And also which are the best ways to have a true review of the schools?

Poll Options

  • 0
    Reviews from online search/Social networking group
  • 1
    School Ranking website
  • 5
    Friends and family
  • 7
    Make a quick visit to the school yourself to find out


  • aren't public schools free? and you just pay for excursions and all that crap? - I'm probably wrong - my children count is 0

  • There are hardly any fees with Public Schools. Sure you gotta pay for text books, uniforms etc, but you'll be paying for that at a Private School too. I think we pay $60 voluntary contribution a year for our Year 2 kid. In Prep you have to pay a little more, think it was $120, but every year after that is the same $60 cost.

    There will be excursion costs from time to time. I'm sure they'll be much less than the excursions a Private School would be going on.

    There are plenty of good Public Primary schools around Brisbane. Just use mySchool to look up results in a area you think will be good. Look at student gain and bands. Better to try for a school with a few hundred cap vs a larger school. Check out the school community, look up facebook etc, get an idea of it'll be a nice place for your kid to learn at. Go visit get a feel for the staff/working environment.

    Save your cash :) With High School there is a larger quality diff - that's where i'd be spending my dime if I didn't have a good Public High School nearby.

    • +1 vote

      The mySchool website might be useful for comparing public schools broadly, but how one particular year of kids performs vs another has almost nothing to do with the school and almost everything to do with the kids selected by the school (either by geographic location or academic performance).

      So take it with a grain of salt.

      I went to a school that did the best in the state one year, and horrendously poorly the next year, pretty much all the teachers were the same, the difference? Luck in that one year had a high number of bright students.

      Try and get a feel for the school environment, the teachers etc, other opportunities. You can always get a bad teacher at a good school as well. Basically, it's half chance, the best you can pick is the facilities / environment.

      If your kids respond well, great, if not be prepared to find another school they fit in with. A lot of the school environment comes down to the home environment of the majority of parents.

  • +3 votes

    I'm in north bris. 3 kids.
    I went to a private school all my life and wanted my kids to go to public school. when I was younger a lot of my friends went to state school so I thought it couldn't be that bad.

    so when my eldest was starting prep we enrolled her in the "best" of the 4 state schools within a ~5 kms radius.

    prep was great. my eldest had two energetic young teachers who job shared. "this is awesome" we thought. Our middle was starting school the next year and so we lined up to have the same teachers for her.

    So #1 moved to grade 1 and our hopes for the school quickly evaporated. her teacher just seemed tired, lazy and would yell at the kids (this was 2 weeks into the new school year). and some of the kids…the school has a large catchment area. and part of that is some really low income areas and some the of the parents dropping their kids off had fond memories of attending the same primary school 10 years earlier……….

    we took the girls out and enrolled them in the local private school. it's been good.

    based on my own schooling, and what I have witnessed with my own children so far, I'd recommend going private for primary. then re-asses for high school. my kids experience is, so far, one that has given them a strong base for ongoing learning.

    my view is that a school that hires its own teachers has greater powers in firing teachers that don't perform., also parents who send their kids to private school (and paying the fees) want value for money, but also generally more encouraging of academic achievement.

    this is a very simple view, in terms that it does not take into account a multitude of factors e.g. parents academic history.

    My eldest has entered in to a state high school this year and sheer cost alone stopped us from sending her to the private schools secondary campus. we checked out the 2 high schools in the area and selected the one which has the best programs, reputation, and facilities, also a couple of friends are teachers and they recommended her school. 4 weeks in and she is enjoying it.

    best thing to do is 1) checkout the local state school and talk to parents who have kids there to get an idea of the school. if the schools appear good then go for it. (2) if you are in a dodgy area then it may be best to consider private.

    • As another example I am in the inner west of Brisbane and all the public primary schools around here are great. They also regularly score in the top % of Qld primary schools above most private schools. I think studies have shown the socio economic area has more bearing than public/private.

  • I take the school rankings with a grain of salt. Our two kids are on the opposite ends of the spectrum - one was primary school dux, the other needed a lot of learning support. We sent them to a local private school for primary and a state school for secondary, having checked that they would both get support for their abilities.

    The big problem with some 'high achieving' schools, both private and state, is that they ask certain children to remain home on NAPLAN days. The only time that was suggested to us was with our higher achieving daughter and only because my husband was in hospital with heart problems and the school asked if she would prefer to not sit it so as not to add to her worry about her dad.

    We found they got a very good grounding at the private school for primary and the high school had much better learning support. Some private schools provide no learning support whatsoever.