As many of you may know I recently moved with my son to Australia after nine years of living in Samoa. There were many reasons for this move, most are personal, but ensuring that my son has a good education was a major reason for this move.
All of my son's schooling was in Samoa, except for six months where he was in Australia. In this time he attended both public and private schools. At all of his schools he had a cousin who he knew before hand so it was easy for him to make the transition.
This year he is attending a public Australian school. It is a different school to the one that he attended previously because we lived out of the zone for the previous school he attended. I was actually surprised at how strict the zones were. We had to provide proof that we lived within the area before they would even discuss what the registration process was.
I remember in Samoa that it was more of a matter of who you knew at the school that determined whether or not you attended the public school. There were zones in place, but this was not adhered to strictly.
My son's new school in Australia was so new the buildings had not been finished when we registered so we had to go to a different venue for registration. Registration was streamlined the forms were all ready and I called ahead so that I knew which documents I needed to provide. The forms also included the books and fees that were needed and payment could be made at registration. It came with a list of uniforms and prices so that I was able to get an idea of what I needed to purchase. To sum up the experience it was very organised.
I looked at the prices for school books and uniforms and automatically compared them to what I was paying in Samoa. This is what I found:
Australia Public School Books (including stationery): AUD$210
Australia Public School Uniforms (three shorts, three tops, two jumpers, backpack, hat, socks & shoes): AUD$282
Australia Public School fees: AUD$300 (this was not so much a school fee it was payment for technology and building contributions)
Australian Public School TOTAL: AUD$792
Samoa Public School Books: AUD$0
Samoa Public School Uniforms (three shorts, three tops, shoes): AUD$140
Samoa Public School fees: AUD$80 (AUD$20 a term and there were four terms and not called a school fee but a parent contribution)
Samoa Public School TOTAL: AUD$220
Samoa Private School Books: AUD$50
Samoa Private School Uniforms (three shorts, three tops, shoes): AUD$140
Samoa Private School fees: AUD$1200 (AUD$300 a term and there were four terms)
Samoa Private School TOTAL: AUD$1390
This was a little surprising to me. I was sure that even though I paid school fees per term that the exchange rate would make any school in Samoa less expensive than a school in Australia. How would I rate the service in relation to these prices?
Australian Public School, as I said earlier they were very organised. The school buildings are brand new and there are state of the art technology that is accessible to my son. He was most excited that he would be using an iPad as a part of his schooling. There was an orientation day where we could go in and meet the teacher before the school year began. My son was placed in a composite class for grades 5 and 6. As enrolments increased the school saw a need to divide the two classes and hire a new teacher so that there was a separate year 5 and year 6 class. The school organised all the stationery and books to be purchased in bulk by the school making it a little more affordable. These came in packages that each student picked up and took to their class. I have been most impressed with the communication from the school. When there was a change in teacher I received a letter. The teacher sent home a letter explaining the homework and when PE would be held and what would be happening in class. This is helpful for me as I now know when I should have sports uniforms ready and when to expect homework. They have a before and after school program in place so if ever I need child care for my son before or after school a program is already in place. I am very impressed with this school thus far.
Samoan Public School, well you get what you pay for. The classes were over crowded with more than 50 students in a class. The students sat on the floor the majority of the time. Stationery was provided free of charge which was great. The service was poor. There was no communication from the school. The teachers still use threatening tactics and have even hit my son. So much so that he would cry some mornings because he was scared of his teacher. My son could not read and his writing was extremely poor after four years of attending a Samoan public school. At the time that was all I could afford so like I said you get what you pay for.
My son loved the private school that he attended in Samoa. He was happy to go to school and actually looked forward to it. The class sizes were reasonable with less than 30 in a class. This allowed my son the attention that he needed to get himself to the level that he should have been at. They offered after school tutorial classes free of charge for students like my son who needed the extra attention. There were class assistants to ensure that my son did not go unnoticed and so he received the assistance he needed. There was regular communication from the school so I was well informed. I loved the bus service that was offered by the school. It allowed me to save time and petrol as the school as quite a distance from my house. My son learnt a lot from his time at this school and I am very pleased with his progress. I believe that the value I received was worth the price I paid.
While we loved the private school I am happy with the move and look forward to my son's continued education in Australia. I do hope that the education system in Samoa make the necessary changes so that people stop moving overseas to get a better education.