Australian schools: Opening doors to the future
Australian schools are acknowledged world leaders in the fields
of curriculum development, academic progress, the use of
information technology in the learning environment, and outdoor
education as part of the child’s development. These unique
features, combined with a supportive and safe living environment,
have made Australian school education increasingly popular with
international students and parents.
Australia is a safe, multicultural society. Parents know their
children will be well looked after in the school and in the
community as a whole.
A choice of Government or
and extra-curricula activities
The Australian Qualifications Framework ensures that school
programs around the country are at the same high standard. For
example, students sitting final year exams in Melbourne and Perth
will be undertaking a similar level of study to gain their final
Australian quality assurance is also ensured by the Educational
Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act. This law governs the
quality and delivery of education to international students.
Institutions which offer education to non-Australians must register
with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for
Overseas Students (CRICOS) and comply with educational, pastoral
and consumer standards.
Australians start school at four or five years old and have 12
years of primary and secondary school. While the States and
Territories have slightly different school structures,
- primary school is Kindergarten to Year 6 (age 5–12)
- secondary school is Year 7 to Year 12 (age 12–18)
In Year 12, students sit the Senior Secondary Certificate of
Education. This certificate is recognised for entry into further
study in all Australian universities and vocational institutes. It
also recognised for entry into many international universities.
Your IDP counsellor can help
determine which level of schooling your child should go into. You
may need to provide academic reports or records from your child’s
The school year is from January/February to December and is
divided into three or four terms with short holiday breaks. The
long summer holiday is at the end of the year.
Students attend school from Monday to Friday, from around 9am to
3pm. Extra-curricula activities such as sport, music and drama may
be held after school or on Saturdays. Often students are involved
in team sports (eg tennis, netball, soccer, rugby and hockey) which
are usually played on Saturdays.
A choice of Government or
In the Australian school system, there are two types of schools.
Both types of school must meet the Australian Government
- Government schools (run by each State and Territory Government
Department of Education)
- Independent schools (usually have a religious affiliation and
are controlled by a school board).
Government schools (public)
These schools are under the authority of the State Department of
Education and are regulated by a centralised Government body.
Governments offer a strong platform of education without a
religious denomination behind it, but will include a similar
curriculum as an independent school.
Most Government schools are co-educational (both boys and
girls). Only a few schools are single sex (only boys or only
Independent schools (private)
An independent school operates separately from Government
administration – while in accordance with Government standards and
regulations – as their curriculum is often supported by a religious
denomination. Funding comes primarily from the schools
administration, and the school is controlled by a school board.
Independent schools may also offer the International Baccalaureate
(IB) along with the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.
Independent schools may be co-educational (boys and girls) or
single sex (only boys or only girls).
Each State and Territory has a Senior Secondary Certificate of
Education that is awarded on successful completion of the final
year of study. Each State’s award is transferable across all States
and Territories in Australia and is accepted by many universities
Some schools also offer the International Baccalaureate
Programme (IB). The IB is a rigorous pre-university course of
studies, leading to examinations that meet the needs of highly
motivated secondary school students in the final two years of
senior secondary education. The IB is an internationally
transferable and recognised award that can be used to apply for
university entrance worldwide.
Australian schools have developed strong links with local
universities and vocational education providers. Each institution
takes great care to prepare its students for the intellectual and
emotional demands of further education, and takes pride in the
number of students graduating into university. It is their aim to
give students a solid foundation from which to develop into the
best person they can be.
School facilities and
Australian schools have modern facilities and state-of-the-art
equipment. Generally schools have smart boards in the classrooms,
comprehensive libraries, computer labs, science labs, music rooms,
gymnasiums, halls or theatres and sporting facilities. Schools are
well-resourced technologically. For international students, there
are numerous resources for learning English and adjusting to the
Schools aim to develop their students into well-rounded adults.
This means they encourage a wide range of extra-curricula
activities, in addition to the academic program. For example, your
child may play the violin, get involved with debating at
lunchtimes, compete in the cross-country against other schools,
learn a new language, join the IT club or play soccer on the
International students at Government schools are likely to live
in homestay arrangements. Homestay means staying with a local
Australian family for a fee. Your school can assist in arranging
homestay with a family that suits your child. Homestay means
security as your child is living in a family environment with
Independent schools usually have boarding school facilities on
campus or near the school. Boarding usually means sharing a
dormitory or room. In some schools, final year students have their
own room. Students are given all meals and have common lounge-room
and entertainment facilities. In a boarding house, students are
supervised at all times. Some independent schools may also arrange
Studying in an Australian school opens the door to unique
pathways into the future. For more information, contact your nearest IDP office.