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[Melb] Carey Grammar vs St Michael's Grammar


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#1 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 06:53 PM

My son's been offered a place for Prep from both Carey and St Michael's. Geographically we're in St Michael's neighbourhood, so going to Carey means that we'll need to move.

I guess what I want to hear real experience of parents whose kids go either schools. The two schools are very different in terms of size, culture etc. Any opinion would be really appreciated.

Edited by melburnian, 29 April 2019 - 03:22 PM.


#2 Mumma3

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:05 PM

I’m not a parent at either school, but have friends with children at both of those mentioned.
I’d choose St Michaels based on what I have seen and heard.

#3 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:09 PM

View PostMumma3, on 18 April 2019 - 07:05 PM, said:

I’m not a parent at either school, but have friends with children at both of those mentioned.
I’d choose St Michaels based on what I have seen and heard.

May I ask what you've seen and heard if you don't mind sharing? Really interested!

Edited by melburnian, 18 April 2019 - 07:10 PM.


#4 Mumma3

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:22 PM

Happier children, happier parents too. Facilities at St Michaels for older years were better.
The other thing, you’ve stated you are closer geographically to St Michaels. Keep in mind that private schools tend to have larger catchment areas so kids coming to St Michaels might be from, for example,  southern bayside suburbs or inner north whereas kids coming to Carey might be as far out as Mitcham.
Do you want to be driving that far for play dates? Or lwttting then travel solo in high school? Things to keep in mind long term

#5 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:28 PM

View PostMumma3, on 18 April 2019 - 07:22 PM, said:

Happier children, happier parents too. Facilities at St Michaels for older years were better.
The other thing, you’ve stated you are closer geographically to St Michaels. Keep in mind that private schools tend to have larger catchment areas so kids coming to St Michaels might be from, for example,  southern bayside suburbs or inner north whereas kids coming to Carey might be as far out as Mitcham.
Do you want to be driving that far for play dates? Or lwttting then travel solo in high school? Things to keep in mind long term

Those are good points. Interesting about facilities at St Michael's for senior years. I thought Carey had much bigger facilities and ground.

I'm also a bit biased about parents in the east vs the parents from where we are (inner south east/ inner city). I heard rumours that parents in the East can get quite passionate when it comes to kids and their achievements... I might be wrong though.

#6 jessiesgirl

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:41 PM

Which campus of Carey?  Boys schools are difficult to find and to get in to.   The Kew campus is very popular and you’re lucky I think to get a boy’s place without a daughter enrolled there.  I know people with their kids there who are very happy.  Have you toured both schools I would imagine a very different environment?

#7 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:46 PM

View Postjessiesgirl, on 18 April 2019 - 07:41 PM, said:

Which campus of Carey?  Boys schools are difficult to find and to get in to.   The Kew campus is very popular and you’re lucky I think to get a boy’s place without a daughter enrolled there.  I know people with their kids there who are very happy.  Have you toured both schools I would imagine a very different environment?

Kew campus. My daughter's on the waitlist as well but not offered a place yet. We have toured both schools - St Michael's recently so it's fresh on our minds. Toured Carey at least 2 years ago (just the junior school). I still remember that easily hundreds of kids were hanging off the monkey bars there lol. My husband was very impressed with Carey. It was a much larger school than St Michael's from my memory.

We were underwhelmed with St Michael's facilities (no proper performing arts centre is a big let down for us) but for what they lack, I think they make up in the vibrant atmosphere and tight-knit environment. I felt comfortable there.

Edited by melburnian, 19 April 2019 - 01:42 PM.


#8 JRA

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:51 PM

One of the big factors for some families is Saturday morning sport. Carey is an APS school, so Saturday morning sport is a compulsory thing in senior years. St Michaels is part of ACS - so sport is not on the weekend.

Both schools have great reputations, I tend to like St MIchaels, although DH is an old Carey boy, and we have friends who have kids there.  The St Michaels kids I know have been really happy with the school, it is less pretentious IMO

#9 jessiesgirl

Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:54 PM

Ok.  If you want that spot at Kew I’d take it now then!  I think you need to look at secondary as well if you’re likely to continue on and there might be differences there.

In regard to your concern about obnoxious parents, I think they are to be found all across Melbourne!  I have one child at private girls primary and one at local primary in the area and there are obnoxious parents at both.  Perhaps more pushy at the private school and I don’t blame them they’re paying a heap of money for the school.  Friends from all over Melbourne complain about parents at their Primary schools.  Given your reservations though, you might find it a big culture change to move this way.

#10 jessiesgirl

Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:01 PM

View Postmelburnian, on 18 April 2019 - 07:46 PM, said:



We were underwhelmed with St Michael's facilities (no proper performing arts centre is a big let down for us) but for what they lack, I think they make up in the vibrant atmosphere and tight-neat environment. I felt comfortable there.

I think facilities matter less than the teaching environment. My kids are additional needs though, so I look for different things to some other parents.  I am not sure of the fees discrepancy between the two schools?  If you’re happier with the feel of St Michaels then that is a big factor.

#11 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:28 PM

View Postjessiesgirl, on 18 April 2019 - 08:01 PM, said:



I think facilities matter less than the teaching environment. My kids are additional needs though, so I look for different things to some other parents.  I am not sure of the fees discrepancy between the two schools?  If you’re happier with the feel of St Michaels then that is a big factor.

Not much difference in fees. Almost same.
I feel that you get more bang for your buck at Carey but there's certain charm at St Michael's lol.

We initially really wanted Carey and given that it's very hard for a boy to get in, we feel that if we don't take this offer, the opportunity will be forever lost... But not sure if that's the right reason to choose though.

#12 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:36 PM

View PostJRA, on 18 April 2019 - 07:51 PM, said:

One of the big factors for some families is Saturday morning sport. Carey is an APS school, so Saturday morning sport is a compulsory thing in senior years. St Michaels is part of ACS - so sport is not on the weekend.

Both schools have great reputations, I tend to like St MIchaels, although DH is an old Carey boy, and we have friends who have kids there.  The St Michaels kids I know have been really happy with the school, it is less pretentious IMO

We do like our slow weekend mornings! Haha yes aware that Carye's an APS, which I like the legacy of it but don't like compulsory saturdays. Such a hard decision!

Any reason why you did not choose Carey for your children? Is that APS?

#13 FEdeRAL

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:13 PM

For me the fact that the Sports Facility is in Bulleen will play a big factor in my decision.

Edited by FEdeRAL, 18 April 2019 - 09:14 PM.


#14 JRA

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:22 PM

We don't live out that way, hence no to Carey, and St Michaels

#15 aace

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:25 PM

We didn't have a good experience with Carey with a bullying issue. The schools response was incredibly underwhelming and we ended up needing to change schools. I do know children that are happy there but maybe something to ask about the policies and how they enforce them if that is a concern for you.

#16 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:43 PM

View PostFEdeRAL, on 18 April 2019 - 09:13 PM, said:

For me the fact that the Sports Facility is in Bulleen will play a big factor in my decision.

So are the swimming pool, tennis courts etc all in Bulleen? St Michael's have very minimal sporting facilities due to its ground size. They have a swimming pool and gym. And a bit of outdoor space.

#17 FEdeRAL

Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:53 PM

View Postmelburnian, on 18 April 2019 - 09:43 PM, said:


So are the swimming pool, tennis courts etc all in Bulleen? St Michael's have very minimal sporting facilities due to its ground size. They have a swimming pool and gym. And a bit of outdoor space.

That’s my impression from chatting with a school mum whose kids have since changed to Carey. I think the Kew Campus has a tennis court(s)? And some ovals but the swimming pool is definitely in Bulleen.

#18 melburnian

Posted 18 April 2019 - 11:09 PM

View Postaace, on 18 April 2019 - 09:25 PM, said:

We didn't have a good experience with Carey with a bullying issue. The schools response was incredibly underwhelming and we ended up needing to change schools. I do know children that are happy there but maybe something to ask about the policies and how they enforce them if that is a concern for you.

Why do I get a feeling that Carey's reputation isn't what it used to be.... I remember Carey being a reputable school (probably still is) but I somehow see a decline in VCE results (not that it's a big factor in our decision making) and in other areas.

I still think it's a good school but other schools (Caulfield, St Kevin's, Haileybury, St Leonard's for example) seem to be moving up whereas Carey stays still... Maybe I'm wrong.

#19 ali-song

Posted 18 April 2019 - 11:50 PM

View PostFEdeRAL, on 18 April 2019 - 09:53 PM, said:



That’s my impression from chatting with a school mum whose kids have since changed to Carey. I think the Kew Campus has a tennis court(s)? And some ovals but the swimming pool is definitely in Bulleen.

That’s a good point - and not only Bulleen, but construction central for the new North East link project. I imagine the whole area will be a mess until about 2027 (when it’s meant to open).

#20 melburnian

Posted 19 April 2019 - 12:50 AM

View Postaace, on 18 April 2019 - 09:25 PM, said:

We didn't have a good experience with Carey with a bullying issue. The schools response was incredibly underwhelming and we ended up needing to change schools. I do know children that are happy there but maybe something to ask about the policies and how they enforce them if that is a concern for you.

Sorry to hear that. My husband actually raised a bullying issue with bigger schools. His colleague went to Carey and was bullied as well. Definitely something to consider.

#21 tiggy2

Posted 19 April 2019 - 05:42 AM

What are your kids like? Carey is much more sport oriented, st michaels more art oriented (friends with kids at both schools.) Carey also more of a boys school with girls in it than truly coed if that makes sense.

My sense is st michaels is a nicer and more caring school. They may not have as flash facilities but their performing arts program is highly regarded. If your kids look like they are particularly physical or sporty I would go Carey.  St Michaels has pretty limited space for physical play as well as sport. But you could also do club sport if your choice on saturdays given no Saturday sport.

FWIW mine are enrolled at Carey but won’t go there - I’ve not heard particularly appealing things from parents with kids there especially with girls.

#22 OliviaVivian

Posted 19 April 2019 - 06:24 AM

I’ve heard only great things about Carey in all regards. I’ve not heard a lot about St Michaels to be honest.
Do you know anyone at either going to prep 2020?
Will you be ok with the drive to Carey twice a day?
I don’t think the sports facilities being off campus are a biggie as the simply bus them there when need be. Trinity does the same.
Big decision...

#23 melburnian

Posted 19 April 2019 - 09:21 AM

View Posttiggy2, on 19 April 2019 - 05:42 AM, said:

What are your kids like? Carey is much more sport oriented, st michaels more art oriented (friends with kids at both schools.) Carey also more of a boys school with girls in it than truly coed if that makes sense.

My sense is st michaels is a nicer and more caring school. They may not have as flash facilities but their performing arts program is highly regarded. If your kids look like they are particularly physical or sporty I would go Carey.  St Michaels has pretty limited space for physical play as well as sport. But you could also do club sport if your choice on saturdays given no Saturday sport.

FWIW mine are enrolled at Carey but won’t go there - I’ve not heard particularly appealing things from parents with kids there especially with girls.

If I have to pick one side, I'd say my son is more arty than sporty but he's into his footy and loves swimming. He's not rough. He's a gentler boy. I wouldn't say he's particularly physical though. He enjoys music, dancing, drawing, books. But very outgoing personality and super talkative. I feel that his favourite sport will be debate 😂 he has good balance of male and female friends. Girls particularly like him too due to his gentler demeanor I think.

My girl seems to be more physical (although she's only 1.5! Nearly 2). No fear/care whatsoever - climbing up things, already riding a scooter, always wants to move about. Only thing she hates is swimming. She also has fun drawing and dancing but i don't think she's as patient as my son with quiet activities.

Your children are waitlisted at Carey? What's the story about girls at Carey? Not very nurturing for girls?

Nurturing teachers and pastoral care are important to us.

Edited by melburnian, 19 April 2019 - 09:22 AM.


#24 Mumma3

Posted 19 April 2019 - 09:25 AM

I just want to clarify what I meant by facilities and I think many parents are wowed by pools and tennis courts etc but these things are not daily issues. Most kids will get benefit from them once a week at most (unless in squad or teams etc).
Facilities like he learning centres where they spend most of their time, the communal spaces, science labs and food tech rooms etc and their tech facilities are, in my experience, more valuable resources. Pools look good in brochures but are a dime a dozen in the private school sector.
Being able to access community arts facilities is a much better use of resources than having your own. St Michaels has a huge resource with the local performaing arts community - they just down own the space.

My kids went to a school that had all the bells and whistles. It wasn’t that great however if you weren’t a swimmer or tennis player. They resurfaced the oval
every few years and the front of the school looked great with lovely green grass, but it wasn’t useful for actual sporting matches.

I agree about the bullying mentioned above at Carey. It does happen at all schools, and it depends on how it is handled. Any school that tells you they don’t have a bullying problem probably has a bigger one than they realise.

What does your family value? Sports? Performing arts? Proximity to friends and family? Just because it’s hard to get into Carey doesn’t mean it’s the best school for your children.

Edited by Mumma3, 19 April 2019 - 09:27 AM.


#25 melburnian

Posted 19 April 2019 - 09:26 AM

View PostOliviaVivian, on 19 April 2019 - 06:24 AM, said:

I’ve heard only great things about Carey in all regards. I’ve not heard a lot about St Michaels to be honest.
Do you know anyone at either going to prep 2020?
Will you be ok with the drive to Carey twice a day?
I don’t think the sports facilities being off campus are a biggie as the simply bus them there when need be. Trinity does the same.
Big decision...

I don't know anyone going to either school. Most people I know opted for public schools.

If we go with Carey, we'll move to Kew.




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