Parents’ choices of primary school

Content type
Commissioned report

September 2016

Commissioning Body

Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

Key findings

Some 69% of primary school children attend government schools, followed by 19% of children who attend Catholic primary schools and 12% who attend independent schools.

Australian parents decide which primary school is best for their child based firstly on convenience and secondly on a host of largely personal factors, which often go beyond academic outcomes.

The percentage of children attending government schools is highest among those with the lowest parental income (76%) and lowest for those where parental income is in the highest group (56%). Parents with the highest combined income were more than twice as likely to choose independent schools.

Parents’ reasons for choosing a primary school

  • For parents choosing government schools, the most common reason was convenience.
  • The next most common reason for choosing a government school was a “family reason”, including having a sibling at the school.
  • Over 20% of parents choosing Catholic schools nominated them for academic, not religious reasons.
  • For parents choosing independent schools, academic reasons were the most common reason, followed by the school’s religious values.