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 in Australia.
Below you will find Australian school term dates, which vary from state to state, where to find schools in the area you’re moving to, top-ranked schools and what paperwork you need to get from your child’s current school to give to their new school in Australia.
If your child is 4 or under read my Australia Pre-schools and Kindergartens post. Whether they are called pre-schools, kindergartens, child care or early learning centres, this post is about your options for learning/childcare before school.
On this page you will find the below helpful information:
Australian schools are organised similarly to NZ. Where there are free government schools that have a residential catchment area and private/Catholic/independent schools, which have a cost. Government schools are free for New Zealanders moving on an SCV and to most visa holders. There could still be voluntary contributions like in NZ and costs for uniforms and stationery.
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.
I get asked a lot for what year a New Zealand student would go into the Australian School System. Below is a table that shows the school year equivalent in Australia (years):
Here is what you need you know when changing your child from a New Zealand school to an Australian school.
Firstly, contact your child’s current School and notify them your child is leaving. They will have had many children changing schools and moving to another country and will give you everything you need.
Contact your child’s New School and let them know you want to enrol your child. Do this as soon as possible, as some schools have wait lists. Have the following information available:
Possible additional info:
Check with your child’s future school for any further requirements:
Additional points to remember:
This site has great information regarding changing schools in Australia and this page outlines helpful information for each state, as they all have different rules and requirements: https://www.aussieeducator.org.au/education/enrolments=2.html.
One of the trickiest thing about starting school in Australia is that every state seems to do it differently! Instead of all children starting school when they are of a similar age, each state has its own set of rules about the age at which children can start school. And to make starting school cut-off ages even more difficult to navigate:
Unlike NZ where kids start on or close to their birthday, kids start school at the start of the year depending on when their birthday falls, e.g. in NSW kids are allowed to start school on the first day of the first term as long as they turn 5 by July 31 that year.
In all Australian states, however, kids need to be enrolled in a school in the year they turn 6. Confused? Yeah so was I!
Visit KidsFirst to read a summary of the cut-off dates for children starting school in the state you are moving to. At the end of this summary, you’ll also find information about other schooling options for Australian children.
Unlike New Zealand schools, which all have mostly the same school holidays, Australian school holidays vary depending on the school and state. So the Australian school year differs depending on the state you are living in.
You can find out the current year and next year’s term dates for Australia’s state and territory government schools here (state by state): https://info.australia.gov.au/about-australia/special-dates-and-events/school-term-dates.
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/).
Australian schools are world-renowned. Below you can find the top-ranked Australian schools state by state, so you can make sure you are choosing the best school for your child/children:
You can also compare schools on The Good Schools Guide website, which has an amazing search function that lets parents compare every school in Australia, leading to informed decisions about their child’s educational experience: https://www.goodschools.com.au/compare-schools.
Most Australian schools use modern education methods within a traditional educational framework. Children wear a school uniform, which is individual to their school. There are also a few schools that 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 ability. Some schools offer specialised programs in areas such as sports, the arts, or academia, for children who are gifted or talented.
There is a range of Boarding schools at the Primary and Secondary levels 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 Australian Schools Directory for a comprehensive list of Australian 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/).
Most Australian schools are co-educational – for boys and girls. Some Catholic and Independent schools are single-gender, mainly at the Secondary level, but sometimes in the Primary years as well. Some Independent single-gender schools offer co-educational classes in the early years.
Australian 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 age 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. Read my post Australia Pre-schools and Kindergartens for more information on pre-schools and kindergartens in Australia.
At the 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, sports, drama, computer studies, science, art, and learn a language (LOTE). Often there are many extracurricular 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 extracurricular activities on offer, such as debating, school musicals or sports competitions.
New Zealand has a formal agreement to mutually recognise University Entrance awards or requirements with Australia.
NCEA is accepted by the Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres (ACTAC), which ensures that all states/territories in Australia use a common approach for tertiary entrance ranking.
This means that New Zealand students can apply directly to Australian tertiary admission centres or providers.
What you need to know if you’re applying to study in Australia using your NCEA results.
It is recommended that you contact the Australian university or education provider you wish to attend as early as possible to ensure that your Year 13 course will meet all the entry requirements.
The ATAR (previously known as the Interstate Transfer Index – ITI) is used to compare and rank Australian Year 12 students educated in different states by ranking students in their year group cohort.
NZQA calculates ATAR scores on behalf of Australian tertiary admission centres for every eligible student in January each year. We use the methodology agreed upon by the Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres (ACTAC).
Read more about How ATAR is calculated, how to apply to an Australian university, what you need to do, what the NZQA need to do for you and State contacts for more information on applying on the NZQA website.
Read my post about pre-schools and kindergartens in Australia and find out about your options for childcare before school, along with learning the difference between pre-schools, kindergartens, child care centres or early learning centres.
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If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please write a comment below and I’ll research the answer for you. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days and I can’t keep up.