In Brisbane, where school catchment zones can put restrictions on where your child may or may not be able to go based on your location, this process can become even more challenging. No longer is it just about which school you prefer, but which suburb you need to move into if you want to make the chances of actually getting accepted in that school higher too.
To help you understand more, below is our detailed outline of school catchments in Brisbane, how it works and tips for navigating the system.
What does a school catchment mean?
As defined by the Queensland Government, a school catchment zone is “the geographical location where a state school’s core intake of students must live.”
This is measured by the shortest and most direct route by road and is designed to ensure that every student from Prep to Year 12 can be enrolled at their local state school.
This does not mean that you cannot apply for a state school outside your designated catchment area, but rather that enrolment is not guaranteed, and you may be placed on a waiting list.
Note: School catchments are only related to state schools, so if you are after enrolment at a private school then you need to rely on their enrolment guidelines which you can get by attending Open Days at Brisbane Schools.
How to find your catchment area – School Catchment Map
The easiest way to find your designated local state school is to use the EdMap website. You can search by entering your home address and see where your local school is, or search via the school to see if your home is in that catchment area. Any school that has a star icon next to it is enrolment managed.
How do you apply if you are not in the catchment?
Not being in the catchment does not mean you cannot attend the school of your choice. It may just mean you must do more work to apply, and the result is not guaranteed.
Often, schools will carefully manage student enrolment outside the local catchment areas to ensure that the total current and forecast enrolments are not exceeding the school’s built capacity. A state school may introduce a School Enrolment Management Plan (School EMP) when enrolment is at 80% of its enrolment capacity to ensure enough facilities are available for–catchment students and restrict the enrolments from out-of-catchment students.
A school may require proof of residency to demonstrate that the student’s principal residence is within the defined local catchment area. These may include rates notices, rental agreements, electricity bills or similar. It is not uncommon these days for parents to secure homes within the catchment areas for the ‘best’ government schools and, indeed, pay a premium for this privilege.
Sometimes for secondary schools out of catchment, students may have to audition to get access via a specialist program, for example, music, cultural, sporting, academic, art etc. This can be the easiest way to enter a school when out of catchment, especially if your child has talents in these areas.
Brisbane’s most popular school catchments
Not all schools have a catchment requirement but those that do tend to due to their numbers and popularity. For whatever reason, be it their specialist programs or reputation, their demand is usually relatively high and property prices in the area tend to reflect this too.
Sites such as Better Education offer school rankings based on their academic achievements. Often, catchment popularity can be driven by school reports and overall rankings like these. This is a reminder that although this is important, what makes a good school is so much more than this. Indeed, when considering the best fit for your child, it is essential to make sure their culture, size, location, facilities, support and communication all suit your child and family’s needs too. We have a helpful guide to help you choose an excellent primary school and choose a great highschool, and most of it has nothing to do with results.
Some of the popular school catchment areas in Brisbane often mentioned in Facebook threads for high schools include:
- South Brisbane – Brisbane State High
- Mansfield – Mansfield State High
- Indooroopilly – Indooroopilly State High School
- Mount Gravatt East – Mt Gravatt High
- Holland Park – Cavendish Road State High School
- Kelvin Grove – Kelvin Grove State College
- The Gap – The Gap State High
Whichever way you go, we are spoilt for choice regarding state school options in Brisbane. Even if you don’t get into the school of your choice, chances are your child will love their local school too. Otherwise, you can always aim to move into your catchment area or re-apply in subsequent years.