Schooling in Australia is of 13 years, starting from preparation and ending at university or college. Across different states and regions of the country, school education is almost similar, with only minor variations in curriculum or system. As such, parents can be assured that studying in Australia regardless of location or school is akin to your child earning unparalleled quality of education – meaning your child gets to enjoy immense employment prospects once they finally graduate.
Here, you will find comprehensive information about the different kinds of schools down under, including International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in Australia and the two types of curriculum primarily found. Looking to enrol your child to study in Australia but still weighing your options? This education in Australia guide can help you sort out your choices.
Schools in Australia
Schooling in Australia starts from preschool and preparatory (kindergarten) for kids aged between 3 and 5. The next step is primary school, onward to secondary and then higher secondary, which prepares students for life-challenging events with a personalised, practical approach.
In Australia, the types of schools range from government to private and home-schooling. This is, of course, conditional that every school must be registered with the education department and is subject to change as per the government’s requirements of infrastructure or employee registration.
Let’s deal with each type of school in detail.
1. Government schools
Also known as public schools, government schools are the sole responsibility of the state or territory government, educating almost two-third of all schools’ students in Australia. From the regulation of the system, administration to funding, the Australian Government is responsible for overseeing that the industry standards are met and the funding is consistent, to name a few.
Students pay minimal or no fees to attend these schools. But in some cases, parents may be asked to pay a contribution fee for materials like textbooks, uniforms, stationery, service charges and other additional costs not covered under government funding. According to a 2010 survey, the total cost per child at an average was $316 per year only.
Education in Australia for students choosing to attend a government school in their local districts is supervised by the Federal Department of Education to set forth the national educational policy and direction. You can find the state and territory government departments responsible for the administration of education in these schools here.
2. Private schools
Also known as non-government schools, private institutes are run by private entities entitled to choose its list of students and the tuition fee. Although private schools operate under the authority of state or territory governments, the education departments ultimately differ. For that matter, private schools usually comprise a strong, old scholar network; premium, opulent facilities; and a broader curriculum comparatively.
Private schools also have boarding houses to attract students from various regions, states and countries. Moreover, tuition fees vary in all private schools. On average, you can expect to pay between $19,000 and $42,000 for a Year 12 student as of 2021, exclusive boarding house fees.
As far as curriculum is concerned, all schools in Australia are required to follow a standard curriculum carefully updated by the education department, so there are only minor differences. But in terms of facilities, personalised learning, or individual mentoring alone, private school students are certainly at an advantage compared to their peers.
According to the last three Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reports, this international problem-solving test for 15 year olds reflected only an inconsequential difference between the scores of private school students and government schools students after taking their socio-economic background under consideration.
3. International schools
Education in Australia is explicitly renowned for being all-rounded, diverse and compatible for students from all over the globe. Beyond the world-class curriculum and superior qualifications framework (AQF), expatriate parents find a myriad of options across independent, catholic, and government schools in the country to nourish their children with one of the finest education systems.
Various schools are starting from kindergarten to high school, awarding the IB to top-scorers and other diplomas for further higher studies in the country. There are around 200 IB schools in Australia, where primary teaching instructions are in various languages but usually in English, French, Spanish, German, or Japanese.
International schools offer diverse options to students by involving more than one curriculum. Some of these schools follow the American or British curriculum with English programmes, while others regulate under the French, German or Japanese education system. In essence, most of these international schools follow a curriculum model from the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, or Canada, catering to ambitious students from all over the world. They ensure similar schooling standards so that students can enjoy a smooth transition down the road if the need arises.
All international schools are registered with the government and strictly follow the education department’s set of standards in quality of teaching, learning and practice. The tuition fee ranges over a wide scale depending on the type of school – independent, Catholic/Islamic, or government – that you choose. Parents should be warned that most international school tuition fees are quite astronomical.
4. Special needs schools
Australia caters to the population of students who have special educational needs. They are categorised as special schools facilitating those students with learning difficulties, physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, as well as emotional disturbances who might even be in a hospital.
Although the curriculum may more or less remain the same, special schools are specially designed in terms of infrastructure, classroom sizes, staffing and resources. They employ specially trained teachers to communicate to all types of students who may have intellectual disabilities, autism, might be deaf or have hard of hearing, or sport any other special needs.
Special schools in Australia engage students differently. For instance, each classroom may involve a smaller number of students compared to the mainstream schools. There is a lower ratio of teaching and support staff to students but plenty of special on-campus facilities, including therapists. There is generally an accessible environment and curriculum in special schools, but subjects offered may be limited than those in their counterparts.
Education in Australia is always at par with outstanding educational systems around the world. This includes home-schooling (yes, it’s a real thing in the country), which has zero compromises on education even when your child is registered to study at home, under parental guidance and without external organisational support.
The Australian state or territory governments hardly ever reject any home-schooling application, for it is legal in all states. Since registration is a legal requirement, you have to follow simple paperwork to get through the process. After registration, parents get to choose their own course of study for the child and what the education will involve. Only infrequent reporting and reapplication is required to the local home-schooling body, beyond which it is a straightforward, personalised, and simple journey.
In 2019, the number of home-schoolers went up to 21,437 from 19,004 in 2017. Parents do not need to buy a home-schooling curriculum if they don’t want to, despite the growing number of home-schooling curriculum providers in the country. It is not mandatory, but you can always go for it if you want to.
Curriculum in Australia
There are primarily two types of curriculum found in Australia – the Australian Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate.
1. The Australian Curriculum
The Australian curriculum is the curriculum for all primary and secondary schools in Australia, no matter which type of school or its location. Besides key learning areas, the Australian curriculum provides a clear understanding of the practical approach to each theoretical topic, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities.
There are eight learning areas – English, Arts, Mathematics, Science, Humanities, Social Sciences, Health and Physical Education, Languages, and Technologies. The spatial and cognitive development capabilities of the curriculum include literacy, numeracy, information and technology, critical and creative thinking, plus intercultural and ethnic understanding.
The curriculum, which is set to release another updated version in 2022, is developed and regularly reviewed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. After gathering feedback, public consultation, and reviewing, the decisions about timeframes, resources, and classroom practices are delivered to all state, territory, and non-government authorities to be implemented within the curriculum.
2. International Baccalaureate
Apart from the subsequent certificates awarded to students of Year 12 in each state of Australia, the IB is a global programme of study gaining steady popularity in the country. Around the world, it is offered in 5,000 schools and 156 countries, out of which 73 schools in Australia are currently offering the IB diploma.
Private, government and international schools are all now offering the IB as an alternative programme, qualifying students for entrance in universities across Australian states and worldwide.
IB is a two-year programme covering Year 11 and Year 12 study with a less specialised, broader focus on one major subject out of six. It typically differs from the Australian curriculum in this respect, where students have to study the required six subjects as well as three other components to become eligible for an IB diploma.
Education in Australia is deemed as one of the finest in the world, making it an amazing educational hub for locals and expats looking to study and settle in the country. What’s more? Fresh graduates who have gained hands-on, practical experience are immediately recruited and allowed to work on a dedicated post-study work stream visa.
Now that you have complete information on the types of schools and curriculum offered in Australia, it’s time you settle on a decision about which path you’d want your child to climb on before the close of the admissions!