Choosing a high school for your child is one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make as a parent.
There’s co-education, single sex, religious and non-denominational to start with, all before you consider whether to choose public, private or independent.
To give you a feel for the private options we’ve compiled this list of some of Australia’s leading private schools.
Let’s be clear on one important thing: this is not a definitive ranking of Australia’s best private schools and can’t be interpreted that way.
In a list of 30 schools spanning seven cites, some big names with outstanding records will inevitably miss the cut. There are a range of ways of measuring schools, and what might be suitable for your children could be on scales that are harder to measure, like ethos, convenience, or specialisation in a particular sport or academic field.
Our approach to selecting the schools was to look at those that had excellent student performance, were recognised as a prestigious institution, had distinguished alumni. We also spoke to a number of business executives and people in our network about what they considered to good schools, including people from every Australian city to get a feel for the schools that were essential inclusions.
Here we go.
NEW SOUTH WALES
The Scots College, Bellevue Hill
Motto: Utinam patribus nostris digni simus, or ‘O that we may be worthy of our forefathers’.
Cost: A non-refundable enrolment fee of $500 on application. A non-refundable entrance fee of $5,000 upon acceptance. Tuition fees for a student in year 12 are $33,925 per annum.
Size: Approximately 1100 students in years 7-12.
Notable Alumni: Brett Whiteley, artist. Lee Freedman, racehorse trainer. Dr. Graeme Clark, key figure in the research and development of the Bionic Ear. Charlie Teo, neurosurgeon. Peter Dowding, former Premier of Western Australia.
Motto: Luceat lux vestra, or ‘let your light shine’.
Cost: A non-refundable registration fee of $200 for the processing of each new enrolment, a non-refundable fee of $750 for each child on acceptance of the place offered for enrolment, and 18 months prior to entry a non-refundable entrance fee of $4,000 for each child. A technology levy of $700. The tuition fee for a student in years 11-12 is $34,972 per annum.
Size: 900 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.
Notable Alumni: Margaret Whitlam, champion swimmer, wife of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Claudia Karvan, actress. Dr Joan Freeman, nuclear physicist. Virginia Bell, High Court judge. Kay Patterson, former federal health minister.”
Sydney Grammar School, Darlinghurst
Motto: Laus Deo, or ‘praise be to God’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $253. An entrance fee of $5,441 on confirmation of a place. Tuition fees for a student in years 11-12 are $32,644 per annum.
Size: Over 1000.
Notable Alumni: Sir Edmund Barton, former Prime Minister of Australia. Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton, Olympian. Banjo Paterson, poet and author.”
Motto: Tempus celerius radio fugit, or ‘Time flies faster than a weaver’s shuttle’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $220. A non-refundable fee of $1,500 to confirm acceptance. A non-refundable entrance fee of $2,000 two years prior to entry. The tuition fees in 2016 are $29,760 per annum for years 11-12.
Size: 921 students.
Notable Alumni: Agnes Elizabeth Lloyd Bennett, pioneering medical practitioner and scientist. Georgie Parker, actress. Sue Fear, the first Australian woman to climb Mount Everest. Erica Baxter, model, singer.
Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), North Sydney
Motto: Vitai lampada tradunt, or ‘They hand on the Torch of Life’.
Cost: A non-refundable waiting list application fee of $400. A non-refundable enrolment fee of $1,000. A non-refundable confirmation fee of $2,000 two years prior to commencement. Tuition fees for a student in years 11-12 are $28,620 per annum.
Size: Approximately 200 students in each year group from 7-12.
Notable Alumni: Roger Corbett, former Reserve Bank board member and Woolworths CEO. Sir Frank Packer, media proprietor. Chris Taylor, comedian, The Chaser. Phil Waugh, rugby union player.
St Aloysius’ College, Milsons Point
Motto: Ad majora natus, or ‘born for greater things’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $250. A non-refundable acceptance fee of $2,400. Tuition fees in year 12 are $16,744 per annum.
Size: As at the end of 2015, the student population was 920 students in years 7 to 12.
Notable Alumni: Joe Hockey, former federal treasurer. Bernard Foley, rugby union player. Anh Do, author and entertainer. Don Burke, television personality.
Ascham School, Edgecliff
Motto: Vi et animo, or ‘strength of mind’.
Cost: An application fee of $300. A non-refundable enrolment fee of $6,000. The school declined to tell Business Insider its current tution fees. According to The Weekend Australian, the they are more than $30,000.
Size: More than 1,200 girls.
Notable Alumni: Barbara Cullen, national president of Country Women’s Association. Camilla Franks, fashion designer. Mia Freedman, editor-in-chief at Mammamia. Helen Newell, vice president of Rio Tinto Energy. Belinda Hutchison, chancellor of Sydney University. Kate Waterhouse, media identity.
Queenwood School for Girls, Mosman
Motto: Per aspera ad astra or ‘Through struggles to the stars’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $220. A non-refundable enrolment fee of $4,000. The tuition fee of a year 12 student is $30,372 per annum.
Size: 600 students in the years 7-12.
Notable Alumni: Dorothy Porter, poet. Suzanne Sharon Vardon (AO), CEO of the Department for Families and Communities, South Australia, former CEO of Centrelink.
The King’s School, Parramatta
Motto: Fortiter et Fideliter or ‘Bravely and faithfully’.
Cost: The enrolment fee is $250. Acceptance fee $3,600. The tuition fee for year 12 is $33,003 per annum.
Size: In July 2013, the school had 1,173 students in the secondary school.
Notable Alumni: John Marsden, author. Mike Baird, politician. John Anderson, former Nationals leader. Stirling Mortlock, rugby union player.
Geelong Grammar, Corio
Motto: Christus Nobis Factus Sapientia or ‘For us, Christ was made wisdom’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $150. A non-refundable enrolment fee of $1,250. Full boarding for students in years 10-12 is $66,000. For day students it’s $39,000.
Size: The senior school, years 10-12, have more than 600 students.
Notable Alumni: HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. HM Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, King of Malaysia. John Fairfax, media proprietor. Rupert Murdoch, media proprietor. Kerry Packer, media and gaming tycoon.
Melbourne Girls Grammar School, South Yarra
Motto: Nisi Dominus frustra, or ‘Without the Lord, all is in vain’.
Cost:A non-refundable $150 application fee. A non-refundable $1,500 enrolment fee. The tuition fees in years 11-12 is $32,736 per annum.
Size: 882 students, according to My Schools.
Notable Alumni: Portia de Rossi, actress. Sally Walker, former vice chancellor of Deakin University.
Motto: Sancte sapienter strenue, or ‘Holiness, wisdom, strength’.
Cost:A non-refundable registration fee of $100. A non-refundable admission fee of $1,000. The tuition fees for a student in years 10-12 is $30,840 per annum.
Size: 766 students, according to My Schools.
Notable Alumni: Livinia Nixon, television presenter. Kit Willow Podgornik, fashion designer. Stephanie Moorhouse, Olympian. Amy Brown, film producer and director. Elise Gillespie, GM of Bakers Delight.
Melbourne Grammar, South Yarra
Motto: Ora et Labora, or ‘Pray and Work’
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $100 is payable. A non-refundable enrolment fee of $3,800. The tuition fee in year 12 is $30,360 per annum.
Size: The senior school caters for some 800 boys from year 9 to 12, including around 100 boarders.
Notable Alumni: Richard Casey, former Governor-General of Australia. Prime ministers Alfred Deakin and Malcolm Fraser. Barry Humphries, entertainer.
Scotch College, Hawthorn
Motto: Deo Patriae litteris, or ‘To God, for country, and for learning’.
Cost: A $100 application fee. An enrolment fee of $1,500. The tuition fee in year 12 is $32,025.
Size: The Senior School enrolment is 1460, including about 160 boarders.
Notable Alumni: Peter Hollingworth, former Governor General. James Balderstone, businessman. Sir Harold Knight, former RBA governor. Ron Radford, former director of the National Gallery of Australia. Ewen McKenzie, rugby union coach.
Fintona Girls’ School, Balwyn
Motto: Age Quod Agis, or ‘Do what you do well’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $150. The entry fee is $1000 for Prep to Year 12. The tuition fee in years 11-12 is $26,948.
Size:600 students from early learning to Year 12.
Notable Alumni: Yalumba chief winemaker Louisa Rose. Associate professor Jill Sewell, AM, paediatrician, Royal Children’s Hospital. Dame Pattie Menzies. Dame Beryl Beaurepaire, activist and politician. Helen Caldicott, physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate.
Caulfield Grammar, Caulfield
Motto: Labora Ut Requiescas, or ‘Work hard that you may rest content’.
Cost: A non-refundable $100 enrolment fee. A $2000 confirmation fee. The tuition fee in years 11-12 is $28,037 per annum.
Size:3,000 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.
Notable Alumni: Musicians Nick Cave and Mick Harvey. Olympian and Victorian governor John Landy. Dual Olympian and Paralympian Melissa Tapper. State premiers Peter Dowding and Lindsay Thompson. AFL player Chris Judd.
Wesley College, Melbourne
Motto: Sapere Aude, or ‘Dare to be wise’.
Cost: A non-refundable application $200 fee. A non-refundable $1,200 enrolment fee. A tuition contribution fee of $2,800. An endowment fee of $7,166. The tuition fee in years 7-12 is $23,885 per annum.
Size:3100 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.
Notable Alumni: The Project host Waleed Aly. Historian Professor Geoffrey Blainey. ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel. Actor Samuel Johnson. Prime ministers Sir Robert Menzies and Harold Holt. IVF pioneer Professor Carl Wood. Sailor Jesse Martin. Swimmer Michael Klim. Tennis player Mark Philippoussis.
Xavier College, Kew
Motto: Sursum Corda , or ‘Lift up your hearts’.
Cost: A non-refundable application $120 fee. A non-refundable enrolment fee of $550 for girls and $1100 for boys. A $1,100 capital works levy. The tuition fee in years 9-12 is $25,767 per annum, plus a sports levy of $450, and computer levy of $250-$900 depending on the year.
Size:2000 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.
Notable Alumni: Labor leader Bill Shorten, marathon runner Robert De Castella, F1 driver Alan Jones, businessman Lloyd J. Williams, former deputy PM Tim Fischer.
Brisbane Grammar School, Spring Hill
Motto: Nil Sine Labore, or ‘Nothing Without Labour’.
Cost: A non-refundable registration fee of $450 fee. A non-refundable $2,100 confirmation fee. A technology levy of $700. The annual tuition fee in years 7-12 is $23,990.
Size: 1,500 students from Years 5-12.
Notable Alumni: Sir Charles Spry, former Director-General of ASIO. Matt McKay, captain of the Brisbane Roar FC and Socceroo midfielder. Drew Hutton, co-founder of the Australian Greens. Michael Ware, CNN war correspondent and Time Magazine journalist. Adam Zwar, actor.
St Joseph’s College, Nudgee
Motto: Signum Fidei, or ‘A Sign of Faith’.
Cost: A non-refundable registration fee of $250. A non-refundable confirmation fee of $2,100. An $800 Master Plan levy per family. The annual tuition fee in years 7-12 is $14,730.
Size: 1,750 students from Years 5-12.
Notable Alumni:Pete Murray, singer. Ron Grainer, Doctor Who theme song composer. Terry White, founder of Terry White Chemists.
Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Motto: Nil Sine Labore, or ‘Nothing Without Labour’.
Cost: A non refundable registration fee of $440. A non-refundable $1600 confirmation fee. A $2,000 advance fee. The annual tuition fee in years 7-12 is $22,070.
Size: 1,200 students from Years 7-12.
Notable Alumni: Gwen Harwood, poet. Shelley Craft, television presenter. Margy Osmond, CEO, Tourism & Transport Forum. Dorothy Hill, geologist and paleontologist. Myf Shepherd, model.
Scotch College, Torrens Park
Motto: Scientia, Humanitas, Religioor ‘Search for knowledge, understand people, respect for the Divine’.
Cost: A non refundable registration fee of $150 fee for each new enrolment, an endowment fee equal to 25% of the total tuition fee upon acceptance and a device charge of $125 – $640. The annual tuition fee for a student in Years 6-12 is $26,148.
Size: 1,030 students from Years K-12
Notable Alumni: Penny Wong, ALP Senator for South Australia. Robert Hill, Australian Ambassador to the United Nations and former Senator for South Australia.
St Peter’s College, Hackney
Motto: Pro Deo et Patria, or ‘For God and Country’.
Cost: A non refundable registration fee of $100 fee for each new enrollment and a non-refundable $2,500 confirmation fee. The annual tuition fee for a student in Years 10-12 is $25,125.
Size: 1,240 students from Years K-12.
Notable Alumni: Andy Thomas, astronaut. David Rohrsheim, General Manager of Uber ANZ. Lachie Neale, AFL player.
Christ Church Grammar School
Motto: Deus Dux Doctrina Lux, or ‘God is our leader, learning is our light’.
Cost: A non refundable application fee of $150 fee. An enrolment fee of $6,550. The annual tuition fee in years 7-12 is $26,200.
Size: 1,600 students from Years K-12.
Notable Alumni: Tim Minchin, entertainer. Nelson Woss, film producer. Andrew Forrest, Fortescue Metals Group.
St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls
Motto: Domine Dirige Nos, or ‘Lord Direct Us’.
Cost: A non refundable registration fee of $100 fee for each new enrolment and a confirmation fee equal to 20% of the total Year 7 tuition fee. The annual tuition fee for a student in Years 7-12 is $24,296.
Size: As of 2015, 1275 students from junior kindergarten to year 12.
Notable Alumni: Gina Rinehart, businesswoman. Adelaide Kane, actress.
Canberra Girls Grammar School
Motto: Iuventuti Nil Arduum, or ‘To the young nothing is difficult’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $150 fee. A non-refundable Standard Family Contribution fee upon acceptance of between $3,230 and $1,170, depending on the high school year of entry. The annual tuition fee in years 11-12 is $20,810.
Size: 1,600 students from Years K-12 and early learning.
Notable Alumni: Sibylla Budd, actress. Stef Dawson, actress. Zoe Buckman, athletics Olympian. Katrina Hodgkinson, politician.
Trinity Christian School
Motto: Love, Nurture and Service
Cost: A non refundable application fee of $55 fee. The annual tuition fee in years 11-12 is $8,852.
Size: 1,144 students from Years K-12.
The Friends’ School, Hobart
Motto: Nemo Sibi Nascitur, or ‘No person is born for self alone’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $50. An enrolment deposit of $1,150, refundable upon completion of the student’s education. The tuition fee for a student in Years 11-12 is $17,340 per annum.
Size: 1300 students from Kindergarten to Year 12.
Notable Alumni: Errol Flynn, actor. Max Walker, cricketer and media commentator. Stephen FitzGerald, Australia’s first Ambassador to China and writer. John Kudelka, cartoonist. Christopher Koch, writer. Merridy Eastman, actor and writer. Kerry Hore, four-time Olympian rower, former world champion. Paul Calvert, former Senator for Tasmania and President of the Australian Senate. Raymond Brownell, architect and artist.
Scotch Oakburn, Launceston
Founded: 1886 (Methodist Ladies College); 1901 (Scotch College). Formed as Scotch Oakburn College in 1979.
Motto: Ad Superiora Viam Inveniam, or ‘I will find a way to higher things’.
Cost: A non-refundable application fee of $200. The tuition for a student in years 11-12 is $16,850 per annum plus levies. Boarding fee is $17,400 per annum for full time boarding. A non-interest bearing capital works loan is requested of each family, which is repaid after the youngest child leaves, of $1250 for Prep to Year 5 entry, $1800 for Year 6 to Year 8 entry and $2500 for entry in to Year 9 or 10.
Size: 1200 students from aged three to Year 12.
Notable Alumni: Alec Campbell, Australia’s last ANZAC soldier. Enid Campbell AO, OBE, legal scholar, first Australian female professor and law school dean. Sir Edgar Coles, former managing director of Coles Supermarkets. Don Wing, former lawyer, politician and president of the Tasmanian Legislative Council. Ben Gray, head of TPG Capital Asia and prominent investment banker. Marcos Ambrose, V8 Supercar champion and NASCAR Driver.