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Call of the country

Tired of living in the big smoke? Maybe it’s time for a sea or tree change. Many young Sydney families are making the move to rural or non-metropolitan coastal areas, swapping the traffic, pollution, stress and high property prices for family time, open spaces, affordable housing and a better quality of life. But just as important as finding the right place to live and work for parents is finding the right country-based school for their child

Imagine waking up to the sound of twittering birds and the smell of fresh air rather than the noise of beeping car horns and stench of traffic pollution. For numerous families in NSW, the dream has become reality as many Sydney parents pack up and ship out of the big city, relocating to more peaceful townships on the coast and in the country.

There’s no question that regional migration in NSW is booming. Coastal areas are still taking in the bulk of relocating families but regional NSW is seeing significant pockets of population growth as well. A NSW Department of Planning Population Bulletin in 2010 showed that regional centres experiencing the most growth in the last year were Dubbo, Tamworth, Bathurst, Queanbeyan, Albury and Wagga Wagga. The Armidale Dumaresq region also showed an increase in the past year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Over the next three decades, major growth areas for NSW will be the south coast, central coast and the Sydney-Canberra corridor, with steady growth predicted for other regional areas.

Relocating to a place that offers a better work/life balance is an exciting move, but there are many factors families must consider to ensure it is an ultimately fulfilling one. Along with finding a home, satisfying work, new social circles and adjusting to the easy-going pace of life, tree-change parents will also need to think about their children’s continuing education.

We take a look at a few of the schools that offer a great standard of education outside the big city.

The Armidale School
The Armidale School is an Anglican boarding and day school for boys located on the New England Tablelands of northern NSW. TAS has a co-educational Junior School with classes from Transition (four years old) to Year 5, an award-winning Middle School for boys from Years 6 to 8 and a Senior School from Years 9 to 12.

The school has a commitment to shape boys’ education beyond academic excellence to personal development and responsibility. This strong focus is met through physical challenge and the development of an appreciation of the outdoors.

TAS boys are challenged to venture into the unknown, to go out on the high wire, so to speak, and to be the best they can be. With the gorge country on the school’s doorstep, its Outdoor Education Program includes whitewater canoeing, abseiling, canyoning, trekking and camping.

Recently, a group of TAS boys faced up to a physical challenge: they rode and hiked from the coast to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko — a total of 230km on bikes and another 20km hiking. Impressively, the organisation of the trip was worked out entirely by the boys as part of their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition.

TAS boys have walked the Kokoda Track on three occasions. This very demanding trek requires a high degree of fitness and the boys train by walking up and down the gorges east of Armidale.

Teachers at TAS understand that students need opportunities to challenge themselves. Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them makes life meaningful, which is why these activities are embedded in school life.

Kinross Wolaroi School
Kinross Wolaroi School is a Uniting Church School nestled in the beautiful city of Orange on the Central Tablelands of NSW. It is a PrePrep to Year 12 school for more than 1000 students, with a proud tradition of educating young people in a family environment where ideals are based solidly on friendship, spiritual strength, the security of family values, hard work and the pursuit of excellence to the very best of one’s ability.

The school offers the unique opportunity for co-educational learning with separate boarding sites for girls and boys. Students are provided with a holistic education and staff take pride in offering a varied curriculum to meet the needs of most students.

Today, the school is firmly committed to co-education with separate boarding sites using its two main campuses. Classes and boys’ boarding occur at the Wolaroi Site on Bathurst Road within the city boundary. Girl boarders live on the PLC site on Coronation Drive just four kilometres from the main site. The girls are bussed to classes each day and enjoy the luxury of a home away from home.

Boarding at Kinross Wolaroi provides many rural families with a wonderful opportunity for their children to truly maximise their independent school education. The boarding binds the school together so it thrives as a community.

All Saints’ College Bathurst
All Saints’ College, founded in 1874, is set on 27 hectares in Bathurst, a regional centre in central-western NSW. The college believes in “educating the whole person for the challenges of a changing world”.

All Saints’ College is a Christian co-educational day and boarding school in the Anglican tradition for students from Transition to Year 12. The college community fosters academic excellence, an excitement for learning, creativity and the fulfilment of individual potential.

The school is a co-educational Christian college in the Anglican tradition. Day students are catered for from Transition to Year 12 and boarders from Year 7 to Year 12.

Today, All Saints’ College Bathurst has an enrolment of approximately 480 boys and girls, including 100 boarders. With its academic and sporting achievements, it is among the top schools in the central-western region of New South Wales. It is also one of the most successful schools in the state, both academically and in co-curricular activities.

With its idyllic Bathurst location, All Saints’ College has the benefit of country living but is still readily accessible to Sydney and major centres. College staff seek to nurture, encourage, challenge and educate in a warm, caring, pastoral environment.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Armidale
PLC Armidale has long been known as a school that provides a good all-round education across a range of curriculum areas. The school provides a unique all-girls education system that is designed specifically for the learning needs of girls, many of whom study high level sciences and mathematics. The environment at PLC Armidale promotes academic excellence and the school has established a respected reputation in this area, consistently featuring in the top 100 schools for the HSC.

The school’s location, nestled in a 17-hectare property with beautiful surroundings, its safe environment, high standards of academic excellence and state-of-the-art facilities are just some of the reasons parents are choosing to send their girls to PLC Armidale. Away from the hustle and bustle of city lights, more and more families are looking for a tree change where their children have the opportunity to focus on learning while still enjoying the many benefits of a big-city school, including sporting exchange and interstate and international excursions.

At PLC Armidale your family will be welcomed into a close and supportive community. The school is alive with opportunities and is renowned for excellence in music and enjoys wide representation across sports in the region. At PLC Armidale each girl can enjoy participation at her own level. Drama, debating, chess and leadership are all part of the PLC experience. The school’s graduates are confident, caring and connected. A PLC education will open doors for your daughter for a lifetime.

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