Schooling advice before relocating to Australia
March 16, 2017
One of the main concerns that we have when it comes to relocating is our children education. Will we find the right school for our child? Will our son or daughter feel comfortable there? Will he or she make new friends easily? Moving from the UAE to Australia is a big change and choosing the right school for your child’s needs is an important decision. Therefore, we would like to help you by giving you an overview of the schooling options in Australia.
Differently to the northern hemisphere, in Australia, the school year runs from end January until mid-December. There are two weeks of holidays during April (Easter, autumn in Australia), June/July (winter) and September/October (spring) and the main holidays take place in the summer period (December/January) lasting between six to eight weeks.
There is great emphasis placed on sport in Australia and most students participate in sport at school at least one day each week. In primary school, this is generally organised within school hours but in high school and particularly at private school, sport is often compulsory with competitions held on Saturday.
Most schools also expect students to wear a uniform, including in state schools. The uniforms are unique for each school and have an additional cost. In the primary schools, the uniforms include a hat, due to the high skin cancer risk in the country.
The school system
Compulsory education starts at six years old, however, the children normally attend a foundation year, normally called Preparatory year, when they are five. Students stay in the primary school until Year 6 and then they move to secondary school (Years 7-12).
In addition to this, there are non-compulsory options for children aged younger than five. These include pre-school, long day care centers, occasional care or family day care. Pre-schools follow a planned educational program (including language, literacy and numeracy skills development), while long day centers accept younger children (from some months after birth until five years old) and they offer extended opening hours compared with the pre-schools (while pre-schools are normally opened between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM, long day care centers opened can be opened between 7:30 AM and 6:00 PM).
In Australia, there are 3 main education providers:
- The State government system (state schools)
- Catholic education system (private schools)
- Independent school system (private schools)
National guidelines are followed not only by state schools, but also by most of the catholic and independent schools providers. Most of the schools are co-educational and the independent schools are mainly found in the most populated areas.
Independent schools include a great diverse group of schools which can have religious or non-religious affiliations and which also include international schools following the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. However, notice the opportunities to attend IB schools are restricted by their limited numbers.
Choosing a school and the enrolment process
Choosing a school it is a process that should be started as early as possible. Given the requirement for children between 6 and 17 years to attend school in Australia, it is the responsibility of the parent to approach a school to arrange a place for any dependent children.
However, be aware that even enquiries may be made prior to arrival and settling in Australia for private schools but government schools generally prefer enquiry once families have a residential address.
Prior to your child acceptance in any school, it is worth to contact each educational center
for details on the enrolment procedures. These can vary widely from school to school. However, useful documents are:
• Birth certificate
• Passport showing visa status
• School reports, examination results, work samples
• Proof of baptism
• Copy of property lease or evidence of residency
You can find more information about education in Australia and the school enrolment in our Australia Education Guide or you can contact one of our relocation consultants.