Guest Post- The Australian School System explained for migrants

Liam Witham- PSS International

Liam from PSS International Removals is not just an expert in packing and moving logistics! He has a wealth of knowledge on the Australian School System, which is a great help for families who are looking to relocate for work. As a teacher, you will probably already know a little bit about the types of educational settings you can expect to work in, but it’s also great to get an understanding of what type of school your kids can enroll in.

A place for every Australian child

Australia’s richly diverse multicultural society has a similarly reach education system.

Today you’ll find non-government (independent) schools, faith-based schools, educational philosophies (Steiner, Montessori etc.) alongside a large network of government (public/ state) schools. All schools across the country must be registered and comply with the Education Department in their state or territory. The government school system is heavily subsidised and students can attend for free in most cases. The system is set up to guarantee a place for every school age child in the country. Most of these schools enrol students according to a catchment zone or district system, similar to the UK.

A typical Australian school day

Australian schools are required to provide a minimum of 25 tuition hours per week. The majority of schools start at 9 AM, finish at 3.30 PM and have two short breaks and one longer break for lunch during the day.

This does vary between Primary and Secondary school settings and Principals have the authority to change these to suit the local requirements. Lunch is usually eaten out in the open air. Students mostly bring their own lunch from home, or are able to purchase lunch from the school canteen.

School uniform in Australia

Just like in the UK, the majority of Australian schools will require students to wear a school uniform. This also includes a decent hat that must be worn at all times when they are outside. This is because Australian schools generally have a strict ‘no hat no play’ rule which is strictly enforced as part of a wider sun smart and sun care educational program. The program helps raise student awareness of the dangers of skin disease, which is particularly common in Australia due to the high levels of UV exposure.

Some parts of the country do experience extreme temperatures during the summer months. Not all schools will cancel classes for the day if the temperature hits 44 degrees Celsius however all schools will observe best practice for managing heatwave conditions in these circumstances.

Starting school in Australia

By the age of 5, it is a requirement in most states that children be enrolled to start their first formal year of school. Enrolments can vary depending on what month of the year your child was born and the birth date cut off system can be confusing.

These requirements vary depending on your child and the location of the school you are enrolling in. It is best to contact individual schools to get more information on this.

In some states, you may have the option of deferring your child’s start date until the next calendar year. Children across Australia are eligible to enter non-compulsory education programs at the age of 4 (or in some states from the age of 3). Primary school generally starts with a ‘pre-year’ known as prep or foundation and then goes on from years 1 through to 6. Secondary school starts in year 7 and continues on to year 12. The senior school years where students sit their main exams are years 11 to 12.

The Australian school year

The year is broken up into 4 terms, each between 9 and 11 weeks in length. After each term there is a minimum two week break.

The school year starts towards the end of January, with the first break happening around Easter. The second term starts in April and goes through to June with another two week break after that. The third term generally starts in July and goes through to the end of September. The last term starts around October and concludes in December. The summer/ Christmas holidays go for just over 1 month. The term dates can vary between the states and territories, but also between schools .Some private schools get longer holidays at certain parts of the year and some faith-based schools may observe holidays that are different to the mainstream Christian calendar.

Process for enrolling in an Australian school

Along with an application form, you may be asked to supply certain types of supporting documentation. This will include a copy of your child’s Australian Immunisation Register and sometimes also include travel documentation and visa information if applicable.

Schools may also request information about languages spoken at home, general health and welfare information or disabilities. This process will vary from school to school. In most cases it is best to start the enrolment process as early as possible as completing paperwork can take some time.

There certainly is a lot to consider in relocating to Australia! With the help of Liam and PSS you have a bit more clarity on navigating the school system from the perspective of a parent. Don’t forget for all your packing and moving needs to contact the team directly to arrange a free no-obligation survey or visit our removals to Australia page to get a free online quote.