Which school is my local?

School Savvy Mum - Helena Tosello

Inner west suburbs can be small and weirdly shaped on a map. School catchment areas are even more so. How do you find out which school actually is your “local school?

Public Schools

Don’t be fooled by thinking that the public school attended by the kids across the road is the same local school for your child. Some school catchment areas draw their enrolment boundaries down the middle of a street.

1. Check the Department of Education & Communities school locator  page or the street directory to find the schools located nearby. The Domain real estate site also lists local public school catchments for listed properties.

2. Call the individual schools or check their websites to see if your home is actually located within their catchment area. If not, you can ask them which school is your local but always confirm with the actual school.

3. The year before enrolment – generally, pre-school before Kindergarten entry or Year 6 before high school – double-check you are still in the catchment area. Schools do change their boundaries and due to the recent mini baby boom and increased high density residential developments in the Canada Bay area, inner west schools are re-examining their catchments regularly to alleviate the pressure on student numbers.

I’m in the catchment area”

This means that the local public school for your address must enrol your child in whichever year you choose entry.

I’m not in the catchment area of my desired school”

This means your child does not have automatic enrolment. You have two options - apply as an out of area student or move into the catchment area. Be aware that many public schools reaching capacity have to restrict out of area enrolments and this may even apply to siblings of students already enrolled. If you are enrolled while living in the catchment area then move out of it, the school will not ask you to leave but siblings cannot then be guaranteed enrolment.

The inner west seems to have an abundance of Catholic schools due to its European immigrant background. But you need to take a closer look at the Catholic schools near you to determine if your living nearby will help you enrol your child.

Catholic systemic schools are those run by the Catholic Education Office of the diocese. Inner west Catholic schools fall into the Archdiocese of Sydney. All suburban Catholic primary schools are systemic schools and attached to a local parish. If your local parish does not have a primary school, there will be a school nearby to which local Catholic children are assigned. Children of families active in their parish have priority of enrolment. This does not have to be the Catholic school or parish church closest to your home.

Catholic high schools can be systemic (usually called secondary colleges) or independent which are run by congregational or religious orders. Systemic high schools have their own enrolment policies and give priority to their feeder primary schools. Again this may not be your closest Catholic high school.

Check School Savvy Mum for the full list of local Catholic systemic schools, feeder schools and an explanation of Catholic enrolment policy at Why a Catholic School? 

Private Schools

Independent non-government schools, including independent Catholic schools, set their own enrolment policies and geographic location is generally no restriction. Some have boarding facilities accommodating rural, inter-state and international students. Location only becomes a factor in determining the daily commute route and times and whether it is too onerous for the student and parents.

Check School Savvy Mum for more information.


Guest Blogger Bio

Helena Tosello is a mum in the middle of everything trying to regain the centre stage of her own life. She lives in inner west Sydney with two boys and a fly in-fly out husband. She enjoys coffee with friends, Kit Kats, reading, organising, researching, sharing, and writing on her fledging blog. You can follow her at:



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