Studying in Australia is a fun and rewarding experience especially with the number of top-performing schools and universities in the country. Basically, education in Australia is integrated with the Australian Qualifications Framework or AQF, which is a national policy for regulated qualifications across schools, vocational education, training, and higher education.
Formal school starts in the foundation year or the kindergarten, followed by the 12 years of primary and secondary school. At the age 16, approaching senior secondary years, students will be taking their Senior Secondary Certificate of Education—a primary requirement to enter Australian universities, enrol in vocational education and training institutions.
It’s important to note that every state in Australia has a different approach to formative years of education or preschool, with some operating independently and some are within the primary schools.
Australian Education System
Australia follows a national standard when it comes to education. Meaning, students have access to the same content and curriculum, with their achievements being measured against a national standard. The curriculum per level of education focuses on the most important skills and capabilities that Australians need to cope with life and work in the modern world.
The education in Australia consists of three major stages. Here’s the breakdown of each stage.
It is compulsory for students to attend a one-to-two-year program in the preschool or kindergarten to develop physical, mental and social skills of children ages four to six years old. The preschool stage helps children get used to the formal learning environment and being away from their parents while interacting with other children.
Kindergarten is the first stage of schooling in Australia. This stage is required before proceeding to primary school. Kids attending preschool and kindergarten are exposed to different activities that will help them develop skills. Activities such as listening to stories, solving puzzles, listening to music, dancing, climbing, balancing and playing with blocks are part of the lessons. [Back to Top]
Students in the secondary school are exposed to broad learning areas including technology programs, which are offered to prepare students for a diverse learning environment in college.
Apart from the usual teacher-directed traditional approach, students may be tasked to do self-research, make use of e-learning facilities, create visual presentations, and participate in interactive activities. Individual research projects are also given in addition to oral presentations.
In the competition of secondary school in Years 11 and 12, students receive an official certificate of qualification. This certification is recognized by Australian universities and higher education institutions. [Back to Top]
The primary school accepts students at the age of six years old. During this stage, students develop essential literacy, numeracy and social skills needed as a foundation to secondary education. Children in Australia attend primary school until they are around 11 to 12 years of age. Private or public schools adhere to Australian education standards and curricula, enhancing children’s skills.
In some jurisdictions, middle schools are introduced. This scope of education offers programs to students in Years seven to ten. After middle school, students attend high school to complete the Years 10, 11 and 12. Middle schools are not always offered in all schools in Australia. [Back to Top]
This is part of the higher education in Australia where students achieve specialized skills for a certain employment field. The Australian higher education sector offers wide-range programs that students can enrol in. Beside state-run colleges, there are also private universities that accept students from around the world.
International students who wish to study in Australia are offered student visa to study a program at an institution on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
Scope of Learning in Australian Education
The Australian education curricula focus on major learning areas that can help students cope with real-life situations. These major skills are developed through the years starting preschool, primary, secondary school, and tertiary education.
Under the Australian Curriculum, starting preschool, students are taught to confidently read, speak, write, and communicate. Literacy capability refers to the ability of a person to use a language and create oral, print, visual, and digital texts.
The knowledge and skills of understanding words, its meanings, evaluating information, presenting ideas, using the right grammar, and composing texts fall under this fundamental capability. The level of difficulty changes year after year when students reached a higher level of education. [Back to Top]
Information and Communication
The information and communication technology capability enhances students’ ability to solve problems, communicate effectively and make use of technology outside school. Because of broad digital opportunities, students are taught to cope with technological advancements and adapt to the ongoing developments. This skill aims to help students conduct research, create multimedia information products, analyse data and create solutions to digital concerns. [Back to Top]
Personal and Social Capability
Learning how to establish a healthy relationship with another person and working effectively with a team are also part of the Australian education. As stated by the Melbourne Declaration on Education Goals for Young Australians, students must have a sense of worth, self-awareness and personal identity in order to manage their emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
By working closely alongside different individuals, a student can cope with differences and be able to establish his or her own identity amongst the rest. [Back to Top]
Applying mathematics to a wide range of situations is also part of Australian education. Under the national curriculum, students develop the skills and knowledge to use mathematics for calculation, measurement, interpreting statistical information and understanding percentages, fractions, rates, and ratios. [Back to Top]
Critical and Creative Thinking
Students learn to solve problems, draw reasoned conclusions, interpret an idea, develop an argument, support an argument, make use of imagination and understand unfamiliar information and ideas. The Australian curriculum helps students to become sharp thinkers while motivating self-learning. [Back to Top]
For a society to remain peaceful and in order, students, as early as preschool, are taught with the right character and behaviours. Moreover, ethical concepts and values are introduced to help students build a strong ethical outlook to manage conflicts in his or her environment. [Back to Top]
Under this capability, a student is taught to value his or her own culture, languages and beliefs. Being aware of other traditions and cultures outside Australia is also part of the intercultural understanding capability. It involves being responsible citizens, working together despite differences in culture and learning to value differences from another individual. [Back to Top]
Type of Schools
Major types of schools in Australia fall into two categories: public and private schools. But there are also subtypes which are English language schools, specialist schools, distance education, home schooling, and selective high schools.
Under the Commonwealth Constitution, education in Australia is the primary responsibility of the State and Territory Governments, hence, the Australian Government provides funding for government schools. Early childhood, care centres, and secondary education are funded by the government, while partial funding is given to VET and public universities, through scholarship grants and research programs. [Back to Top]
These schools either help students learn English as an additional language or study different languages as part of the advanced curriculum. Some of these schools allow students to maintain their heritage language while learning new ones, especially English. [Back to Top]
For students who cannot attend regular classes due to illness, distance to nearest schools or other special circumstance, distance education is offered. Instructors make use of online lessons to facilitate growth and learning of students enrolled in this type of education. The only catch is, there are certain requirements needed for a student to enrol in distance schools. [Back to Top]
Non-government or private schools have their own enrolment process, fees, and regulations that are not handled by the Australian government. Most of the time, private schools can be Catholic schools or independent schools.
The difference between the two isn’t drastic, however, attending private schools is costlier compared to government-funded schools. In addition, private institutions may offer single-sex education, sometimes exclusive for boys or girls. Selected private schools also have a religious association, for instance, Catholic schools follow conservative practices and regulations compared to non-religious associations. [Back to Top]
If a child excels in specific areas of learning like science, performing arts, sports or leadership and enterprise, there are private institutions that offer specialized education. Australia has a number of specialist schools that can enhance students’ gifts in relation to arts, performing arts, sports and leadership. [Back to Top]
This is an alternative type of schooling wherein a student is taught by his or her parents. Just like distance education, home schooling is only applicable for students dealing with difficulties in attending a school due to illness, safety, and other important reasons. [Back to Top]
Tips to Help Children Adapt to a New School
Australian education is not just one of the most advanced in the world but also a popular choice for international students. In fact, according to the data from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, there are more than 554,179 international students enrolled in universities in Australia in 2016. The competitive education landscape in the country and work and study options provide advantages to both local and international students.
To maximise the experience and to let your child enjoy Australian education, below are some tips you can check out:
The English language is used in Australia, that’s why it is important for children to learn the language to effectively communicate with the locals. There are a lot of schools and educational institutions that provide intensive English language training to migrants and international students. [Back to Top]
Studying is not just about books. Look at schools that have a wide range of after-school programs that can make learning more fun for your child. Be it sports, clubs, tutoring or academic enrichment programs. [Back to Top]
Get Kids Involved in the Process
Parents should allow their kids to be involved in the process of moving to a new school. You don’t have to deal with these things alone because your child can help. Start by asking about their opinion on a certain school and if they have other options in mind. Consider collaboration so your child doesn’t feel as if all they need to do is follow you. [Back to Top]
Find the Right School
Research on the school you wishes to enrol your child. Consider the programs offered by the school, teaching approach, facilities and other reliable information. Sometimes, it’s not all in the name and you should look at the overall quality of education offered by the institution. [Back to Top]
Lifestyle and Culture
Choose an institution wherein your child can feel welcome and not isolated. International students deal with pressure coping with the culture and lifestyle of Australians. If you can find a school that has a bigger number of international students, then your child can fit in. [Back to Top]
Australia is a vibrant and multicultural country with a fast-growing economy. Education in Australia provides a host of advantages to international students when it comes to building strong academic credentials for future endeavours. In addition, students can also have a lot of career opportunities in Australia as the country is continually progressing. [Back to Top]