Find out about Australian schools, which year will your child move into from NZ, primary, secondary and finishing school… and more…

I found it quite hard to find information on Australian schools online and it wasn’t until I had kids I figured out how it all works. The below will definitely help you find your child a good school to move to.

Australian Government, Independent or Catholic Schools

Each Australian State and Territory oversees its own education system, and there are small variations between the education systems of each State and Territory. To view the individual educational systems for each state of Australia, please click on the following link: http://www.australianschoolsdirectory.com.au/.

There are two main education sectors within each State – Government schools and Non-Government schools. Non-Government schools are classified as either Catholic schools or Independent schools. Most Independent schools have a religious affiliation, but some are non-denominational. All Government schools are non-denominational.

Australia school year equivalents (compared to NZ)

We get asked a lot for what year a New Zealand student would go into in the Australian School System. Below is a table that shows the school year equivalent in Australia (years):

Australia school year equivalents to NZ

Types of Australian schools

Most Australian schools use modern education methods within a traditional education framework. Children wear a school uniform, which is individual to their school. There are also a few schools which follow a particular educational philosophy, such as Steiner or Montessori.

There are Special Needs schools and special education programs within mainstream schools for disabled children, or children with other specific needs.

Schools often use remedial and extension classes or other approaches to meet the needs of students with differing levels of abilities. Some schools offer specialised programs in areas such as sport, the arts, or academia, for children who are gifted or talented.

There is a range of Boarding schools at Primary and Secondary level in the Private school sector throughout Australia. There are a few Secondary boarding schools, or accommodation, in the Government sector, in some States – mainly for students from remote rural areas. International students can study in schools in Australia.

You can search the the Australian Schools Directory for a comprehensive list of Australia schools, including Religious schools (Anglican schools, Uniting Church schools, Jewish schools, Christian schools etc), Special Needs schools, Alternative schools (such as Montessori or Steiner schools) or Boarding schools (http://www.australianschoolsdirectory.com.au/).

Boys Girls Co-educational

Most Australian schools are co-educational – for boys and girls. Some Catholic and Independent schools are single-gender, mainly at Secondary level, but sometimes in the Primary years as well. Some Independent single-gender schools offer co-educational classes in the early years.

Nearly all Government schools are co-educational. There are a few single-gender Government Secondary schools in some States in Australia.

Prep Primary and Secondary

Australia children usually attend a Preparatory year of school (often called Prep or Kindergarten), followed by Primary school and then Secondary school (often called High School). Including the Pre-School year, most students are at school for 13 years.

Students usually start in Preparatory school around the ages of four or five, and must start school by the age of six. Entry age requirements can vary by more than six months between schools and States.

Primary and Secondary schools are mostly in separate locations, but some Catholic schools and many Independent schools have Primary and Secondary schools on the same campus.

Australian Schools Curriculum

At Primary school level there is an emphasis on English reading and writing, mathematics and the Study of Society and the Environment (SOSE). Students usually also have music, sport, drama, computer studies, science, art, and learn a language (LOTE). Often there are many extra curricular activities offered outside of class time, such as choir, orchestra, chess or sport.

In the early Secondary years students continue to study English and Mathematics and other core subjects. As they progress through their Secondary years, students must study English, but can start to select which other subjects they study and they begin to specialise in certain areas of learning. Again there are many extra curricular activities on offer, such as debating, school musicals or sports competitions.

Finishing School

Secondary school finishes at Year 12. Depending on the State, students must continue their education until 15, 16 or 17 years of age. Further studies can be continued at Universities or TAFE (Technical and Further Education).

Australian School Term Dates

Unlike New Zealand schools, which all have approximately the same school holidays, Australian school holiday’s vary depending on the school and state.

Please visit the website of the Education Department of the State of your choice for information about Government school term dates, or visit the Australian Government website here: http://australia.gov.au/topics/australian-facts-and-figures/school-term-dates.

For Independent or Catholic schools please check with individual schools. Their term dates can vary a little from the Government schools and from one another.

List of Australian Schools

You can find a list of Australian schools by state or territory on the following Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_schools_in_Australia) or on the Australian Schools Directory (http://www.australianschoolsdirectory.com.au/).

Below are a couple of websites that rank the Australian schools:

Further Information

If there is anything else you would like to know about, please ask me a question using the below comment system and I will do my best to find the information you need.

19 Comments

  1. Kav

    September 5, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Hi JJ
    Love your website, thank you 🙂
    We are thinking if moving from Wellington to Sunshine Coast in search of warmer weather We will need to enroll my daughter to start primary school, do you know if any fees apply in a public school?
    Thanks heaps 🙂
    Kav

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      September 5, 2018 at 10:50 pm

      Hi Kav,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Fees do apply for public/government schools. A primary school education is expected to top $140,000 for families choosing to educate their child privately. Parents sending their child to a public primary school can expect to face costs of around $23,000, which compares to roughly $61,000 in the Catholic sector.
      Primary school costs across the sectors:
      Location Area Gov Catholic Independent Average
      National Metro $63,251 $228,942 $458,995 $250,396
      National Regional $51,656 $169,870 $323,006 $181,511
      ACT Metro $54,073 $208,426 $422,635 $228,378
      NSW Metro $69,589 $235,517 $543,334 $282,813
      NSW Regional $53,260 $161,374 $344,678 $186,437
      QLD Metro $58,259 $242,533 $361,911 $220,901
      QLD Regional $50,950 $199,880 $296,806 $182,545
      VIC Metro $68,343 $214,821 $504,742 $262,635
      VIC Regional $51,281 $152,439 $346,628 $183,449
      The ASG survey, was conducted in October 2013, so the above information is outdated.
      Thanks,
      JJ Smith

      Reply
  2. Akshara Menon

    September 3, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Hi,
    We are a young family with a 6 year old girl and 2 year old boy living in Birkenhead , Auckland.
    We are planning to make the move to Brisbane by hopefully end of this year.
    My husband plans to come over and start his electrical apprenticeship so that he can eventually get his electrical license there in Australia & I am a software test analyst.
    My husband plans to resign from here first and come over and search for jobs.
    Once he finds work we all will move.
    Would you please be able to answer few questions for me ?
    How easy is it to rent a home there?
    Could you please suggest some good areas with good schools for my daughter
    What are daycare costs like in Brisbane ?
    For us all of this comes down to finding the right jobs…which we are still not sure how much time it will take ?
    Hope to hear from you soon with some suggestions.
    Thanks,
    Akshara

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      September 3, 2018 at 11:28 pm

      Hi Akshara,
      Thank you for your enqiury.
      Brisbane is a beautiful place to live! So close to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, with better employment opportunities.
      It is easy to find a home to rent in Brisbane if you’re organised. Make sure you have all the paper work needed including the below and so you put your best foot forward and stand out as a great tenant:
      – Your last 3 months bank statements
      – A written reference from your previous landlord
      – Your previous landlord’s contact information
      – Proof that your last bond was repaid in full (or an explanation as to why it wasn’t)
      – Provide and attach photocopies of documents required to meet 100 points of identification (https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/australian-real-estate/)
      It is best to wait until you’ve found work before you sign into a fixed term lease, as you could end up having hours of travel time. Therefore, I recommend your husband rent an Airbnb while he’s finding work and even when you and the kids first move over while your waiting for your furniture to arrive (approx 6 weeks).
      Regarding schools, it depends what type of school you are looking for.
      There are 1723 schools in Queensland, with about 544 schools in the Brisbane area and 58 Gold Coast schools. The majority of Brisbane schools and Gold Coast schools are government schools. Brisbane Catholic schools and Gold Coast Catholic schools are the next largest group, followed by Brisbane Independent schools. The majority of Queensland and Brisbane schools and Gold Coast schools are co-educational, with a small number of Queensland and Brisbane schools and Gold Coast schools either boys’ schools or girls’ schools. Government schools in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Queensland are non denominational and among non-government schools there are Catholic schools and Independent schools representing a range of religious faiths or no denomination.
      With the choice of so many schools, I once again recommend waiting until your husband finds work and then find a school close to there.
      Here are the top Primary Schools in Brisbane 2018 (https://bettereducation.com.au/school/Primary/qld/brisbane_top_primary_schools.aspx) and top High Schools in Brisbane 2018 (http://bettereducation.com.au/school/secondary/qld/brisbane_top_secondary_schools.aspx).
      Honestly the best advice we got was from talking to people. Therefore, find work and talk to the people you work with about the areas to live and close schools.
      Childcare varies depending on what you’re looking for, just like NZ. The table below provides an approximate guide of costs for child care:
      Type of Child Care Price Range
      Nanny: $17-$25 per hour live in / $17-$35 per hour live out (+agency fee)
      Nanny sharing: $17+ per hour per family (+agency fee)
      Au pair: $200-$300 pocket money per week (+agency fee)
      Mother’s help: $12 per hour live in $16 per hour live out (+agency fee)
      Long day care (child care centre): $70-$177 per day
      Pre-school: $45-$80 per day
      Family day care: $7.50-$16.80 per hour dependent on location and service
      In-home care: $20-$25 per hour
      Babysitter: $15-$35 per hour (+agency fee)
      Outside of School Hours Care: $15-$30 per morning session, $25-$45 per afternoon session
      It’s important to remember that child care costs vary from provider to provider, and from state to state, and they are not regulated by the Government. Most providers charge a minimum daily rate or an hourly rate. Some service fees may be inclusive of food and nappies, while others, such as family day care, require parents to provide everything.
      You can also get Financial Support for child care. It’s also useful to remember that these are the prices before the Child Care Subsidy has been taken into account. This subsidy, which was introduced in July 2018 to replace the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate, reduces the cost of care to eligible families. The Australian Government’s Child Care Estimator (https://www.centrelink.gov.au/custsite_pfe/pymtfinderest/paymentFinderEstimatorPage.jsf?wec-appid=pymtfinderest&wec-locale=en_US#stay) can help you determine your eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy and how much support you can expect to receive and our article about the Single Child Care Subsidy (https://www.careforkids.com.au/child-care-articles/article/161/the-single-child-care-subsidy-from-july-2018) is also a helpful source of information.
      This is a widget you should use once you have narrowed down some areas you want to live in: CareforKids.com.au Cost Widget (https://www.careforkids.com.au/). This cost widget (https://www.careforkids.com.au/home/childcarecosts) is another way to check prices for centre-based care. Simply type in your postcode, and the cost widget averages out the prices of providers in your area. For the exact costs of care in your area, you will need to contact the providers directly.
      Regarding how long it will take to find employment is completely dependent on your circumstances. Have you started looking online for work? As this is the best way to get a feel for the market. You can start applying for work before you go, including contacting electrician’s asking about the possibility of an apprenticeship.
      Good luck with your move and please feel free to ask any further questions.
      Thanks,
      JJ Smith

      Reply
  3. Melanie

    August 19, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Hi There, my partner and I and our 2 children (aged 3 months and 2 years – all of us are New Zealanders) are moving to the Gold Coast in October. Just wondering if we are entitled to the child care benefit for when we put them into daycare?
    Kind Regards
    Melanie

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      August 20, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Hi Melanie,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      From the information I can find you are entitled to the childcare benefit on a SCV. Along with family payments, including family tax benefit, baby bonus and parental leave pay, and medical care under MediCare.
      For a list of exclusions for a SCV follow the below link:
      https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/visas/scv-visa-exclusions.html
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  4. K

    August 15, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I have a soon to be four year old and a 5 and a half year old, what grade will they be in and what is the cost of schooling at these ages?
    thanks

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      August 17, 2015 at 6:03 am

      Hi K,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Unfortunately there is not a lot of information online regarding Australian schools, as it depends on what state and what type of school you are looking at registering in.

      However, Australian schooling does start at 6 years, not 5 like NZ.
      To find out costs you will need to contact schools in the states and areas you are considering, which you can find information on here: http://www.australianschoolsdirectory.com.au/educationinformation.php?region=41.
      Good luck with your move.

      Reply
  5. Megan

    May 11, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Hi
    We are planning on moving to the Gold Coast from New Zealand for six months at this stage. Are we allowed to go to school if we are not permanently living in Australia?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      May 12, 2015 at 6:16 am

      Hi Megan,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Unfortunately there is nothing on the internet that answers your query.
      You are going to have to contact a school in the area you are moving to. However, I know of a family that went overseas for a year and they home schooled their kids through the New Zealand schooling system. They found it fantastic. Worth looking into if the Australian school’s aren’t being helpful.
      Good luck with your move. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

      Reply
  6. Susan Walker-Tahana

    February 21, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Hi There,
    We will be moving to Sydney in the next month or 2 and we have 4 year old turning 5 on the 5th October. I’m very confused with all the dates etc. Will he go into a school or a preschool? and if a preschool is it hard to get into with limited spaces? and would that mean he would start school in January 2016?
    so different from NZ
    Thanks for all the info on your site, its great

    Reply
  7. Steven

    February 1, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Hi
    We are looking to move to Queensland in the coming years and are trying to work out what year our daughter will be in. She is almost 10 and will be year 6 this year in NZ
    Cheers

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 3, 2014 at 5:40 am

      Hi Steven,
      Thanks for your comment.
      The Australian system does the same number of years as NZ. She would be in Year 5 this year in Oz. In OZ (kindergarten to Year 12) in NZ (year 1 to year 13).
      Thanks

      Reply
  8. Angela

    May 14, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Hi, I have a 7 year old and a 7mth old we are looking to move at the end of the year to Melbourne. Due to me being a shift worker and my husband working 9-5 my oldest goes to casual before school care and after school care everyday and my youngest goes to a nursery that is open at 7am till 6pm. Where would I find this sort of information out.

    Reply
  9. Joy

    February 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    My partner is working in Adelaide and has a house in Sellicks beach myself and 4 children are moving over bout June/July 2013, 2x 16yrs YR 11 who require special needs assistance but still in mainstream and 2x 9yrs YR 5. Can you help me out to find schools to meet their needs, bus transport, zoning etc…I would appreciate any assistance you maybe to help with.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      March 12, 2013 at 4:10 am

      Good morning Joy,
      Thank you for your comment.
      This is quite a specialised area that I do not know much about sorry and from what I have researched it depends a lot of the type of assistance they require.
      Here is a link to special needs schools in SA: http://www.sa.gov.au/tags/special schools
      However, you will probably get the best help by participating in community websites in Australia, as you will be able to communicate and ask questions to parents and organisations who can help point you in the right direction. Here is one I found: http://www.abilitypath.org/.
      Sorry that I can’t be of more help.
      Good luck.

      Reply
  10. Deborah

    January 31, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I have 2 primary aged children. How will I know what is a good school or not a good school. For instance do they have a decile for their schools? Are there ERO reports somewhere? And are their schools zoned like they can be in NZ? Any info would be good cheers.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 3, 2012 at 6:14 am

      Hi Deborah,
      Thank you for your enquiry.
      Our intermediate years are included in their primary schools (ages 5-12).
      Please find a comprehensive list of Australia schools on this Wikipedia page, which you may find helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_schools_in_Australia.
      Please let me know if you require further information.
      Kind Regards,
      MTA Team

      Reply

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