A big question when considering a move is how to find a school in Australia. Even when moving locally with children there’s a lot more to think about and organise, but when you're emigrating to Australia there's even more to juggle. Not only will you have negotiate a new way of life, new environment, new friends to make and new food to get accustomed to, but you probably also need to find them a place to continue their education - a school, nursery or further education establishment. So, where to start?
The Australian Education System
The first step in determining how to find a school in Australia is understanding the education system. The education your child receives will depend entirely upon the area in which you eventually choose to settle. Each Australian State and Territory has its own education system which tends to vary slightly, so the exact curriculum your child will work from will be determined by where you live.
Generally speaking though, there are two main education systems within each State – Government schools and Non-Government schools; the only real difference here being that Government schools are typically non-denominational, whereas Non-Government Schools tend to favour a religion, with Catholic being the most popular.
Types of schools
Australian schools are structured fairly similarly to what we’re used to here – children are required to wear a uniform unique to their particular school and are taught traditional educational values via modern methods.
As with the UK, the schools here also support a range of learning capabilities and those with Special Needs, disabilities or particular learning difficulties will receive the extra support and attention they require at every stage of their education.
Some schools may have a particular focus – for example, they may specialise in sports, the arts or technology, and this may factor heavily into your reasons for choosing them. Private education is also available, with a range of excellent boarding and private academies available to those that prefer this method of education.
The majority of schools in Australia are co-educational, so mix boys and girls, and these tend to be Government school. Single gender schools are usually within either the Catholic or Independent sector, and are mostly at Secondary level.
Prep, Primary and Secondary
Again, this is all very similar to the UK – Australian children will usually start their education with a year at Prep or Kindergarten at around 4 or 5 years old, integrating them gently into school life and helping them to mix with new children and make friends.
After that, they’ll go on to Primary and Secondary school. Secondary – or High School, as it’s more commonly known in Australia – goes on to year 12, so by the time children graduate they’ve received around 13 years of education.
Most Government Primary and Secondary schools are in separate locations, with only Catholic or Independent schools having Primary and Secondary schools housing the two on the same campus.
Primary school children will receive a curriculum strongly focused on developing their English reading and writing, mathematics and Social and Environmental skills. This will build up to incorporate things like music, sport, drama, computer studies, art, science and often at least one language. Most schools will offer a range of extra curricular activities such as choir, orchestra, sports and drama.
Secondary education will be split into two halves – the first will focus on extending their skills in all of their core subjects, with the second giving students the chance to select for themselves the areas they want to specialise in. Extra curricular activities will also become more focused, with things like debating, sports competitions and school musicals par for the course for many individuals.
For more help on finding schools in your new location, head to the Australian Schools Directory, which lists all of the government and private schools (at all levels) in the country and is categorised by location.
For more information on moving to Australia, check out the rest of our guide to moving to Australia
Did you know Bournes can also help you with your school search (and more)? Click here to enquire about our pre-departure assistance services.