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One of the most important things you can do for your child is ensure they get a quality education. If you’re hopping over the ditch, the unfamiliarity with their system can make decisions around schooling difficult.

There are similarities and differences between the Australian and NZ schooling system. Each state has its own education system and will run schools slightly differently. On the whole, the system is very much aligned with New Zealand, and qualifications achieved are equally recognised on both sides of the ditch. Read on to find out the differences.

Types of schools in Australia

There are two types of schools- Government and Non-Government. The Non-Government schools will either be Catholic or ‘Independent’ schools, the Australian equivalent of private schools. All Government schools are non-denominational, and some Independent schools too.

There are also Steiner and Montessori schools, as well as schools for differently-abled kids. Schools are mostly co-ed, with a few single-gender schools.

The choices here are fairly straight-forward, depending on your budget, your religion, and if you want your child to be in a single sex of co-ed school.

School year in Australia

There are slight differences across states, but the term dates are very similar to New Zealand’s school dates. The public holidays are different but it’s very similar to New Zealand.

2019 school year

 

Term 1

Term 2

Term 3

Term 4

New Zealand

Between 28/01 and 7/02/2019- 12/04/2019

11 Weeks

29/04/2019 – 05/07-2019

10 weeks

22/07/2019 – 27/09/2019

10 weeks

14/10/2019 – no later than 19/12/2019

10 weeks

NSW

29/01 – 12/04 (Eastern)

05/02 – 12/04 (Western)

11 weeks

29/04 – 07/07

10 weeks

22/07 – 27/09

10 weeks

14/10 – 20/12

10 weeks

Most states are exactly the same, or at worst, a week out from Kiwi dates. This means that you will share holidays and head home to see your family at the same time they are on holiday.

Year equivalents

Australian ‘years’ are one step back from NZ’s. Our year 13 is their year 12. Australian kids have a ’prep’ or ‘kindergarten’ year at four or five years old before primary starts, which sets the year numbering out. The length of schooling overall is still the same though.

New Zealand

Primary

Intermediate

High School

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Year 12

Year 13

Australia

Junior primary

Middle primary

Upper primary

Junior

Intermediate

Senior

Kinders

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Year 12

Curriculum in Australia

At primary level, kids will learn English writing and reading, maths and SOSE (Study of Society and the Environment) as core subjects. There will be music, sport, drama, science, art, computer studies and other languages taught too, although some of these are optional or only taught for limited time periods. Depending on the school, there are sports teams, choir and band, or a range of other extra-curricular activities.

At secondary school, there are eight learning areas. English and Maths are core compulsory subjects in most states up til about 16 years of age. Science, social sciences, art, health and physical education, languages and technology are all taught to various levels, with some evolving as they break down further. For example, science breaks down in chemistry, physics, biology, energy, earth and space, and living things. This gives kids a chance to specialise in what they are interested in and what they may need for their future careers.

Children work towards SSCE (Senior Secondary Certificate of Education) in their final year. How this is achieved -and what it’s called- differs through the various states. The overall result is the same level of attainment across Australia and is equivalent to NCEA in New Zealand.

State

SSCE title

Abbreviation

New South Wales

Higher School Certificate

HSC

Victoria

Victorian Certificate of Education
Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning

VCE
VCAL

Queensland

Queensland Certificate of Education

QCE

South Australia

South Australian Certificate of Education

SACE

Western Australia

Western Australian Certificate of Education

WACE

Tasmania

Tasmanian Certificate of Education

TCE

Australian Capital Territory

Australian Capital Territory Year 12 Certificate

ACTE

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Certificate of Education

NTCE

Cost of Independent Private Schools or Government Schools

The fees for private schools vary from state to state and school to school. These figures below are for the 2019 year for year 12 day students. These amounts do not include extra-curricular activities, art, sport, application fees, confirmation fees, additional ‘suggested donations’, bus fees and uniforms.

Note that these fees are for Australian residents and some private schools charge non-residents more, and this is at their discretion. It’s advised to check this out before applying, especially if you are a permanent resident of NZ and not a citizen.

State

Lowest cost per year in AUD

Highest cost per year in AUD

Non-resident fee in AUD

Australia Capital Territory

23,700

24,800

31,825

New South Wales

34,980

38,964

49,960

Queensland

24,446

27,952

35,816

South Australia

25,350

26,820

38,970

Tasmania

18,260

18,345

28,840

Victoria

32,580

36,276

48,308

Western Australia

26,400

28,345

34,850

Government schools are similar to public schools in NZ, in that they have ‘school donations’ that you don’t legally have to pay but are highly encouraged to pay. If you don’t pay, the worst that will happen is that you will be bombarded with letters and possibly your child would miss out on some outings or fun events. These ‘donations’ are between AU$60 and AU$1000.

Kiwis on their SCV’s fall under the same rules as Australian residents and so are not required to pay any extra school fees. This includes the temporary residents program education fee, which you will not have to pay if you are a Kiwi by birth or resident on NZ.

The SCV means that Kiwis can apply for intensive English as an additional language/ dialect support, and also can attend a selective high school, agricultural high school, selective component of high school or primary school opportunity class.

Catholic schools are partially funded by the government and you can expect to pay between AU$600 and AU$3000 a year.

How can you tell which schools are good?

There are a number of ways you can tell if your intended school will fulfil your criteria. NAPLAN/ NAP assessments (similar to the NZ ERO reports) scales schools on the basis of performance of students. This is done by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

There are also a number of websites that rank schools in other ways. GoodSchools rank every primary and secondary school in Australia, also providing a profile of the school, the fees and the academic performance.

MySchool lists all Australian schools, the student profile, NAPLAN performance, and financial information.

Find a school you and your child like

There’s no easy way to assess a school.

  1. This website lists every school in Australia. Search until you have a list of every school in the area you are looking at living in.
  2. Then, check the rankings of the school on the sites above. This is not a perfect measure and should not be used solely- as there are plenty of other ways of ranking a school.
  3. Once you have a shortlist, go to the school websites. Do they cater to the needs of talented students? Do they have extra sport or art programmes that will suit your child’s interests and hobbies? What are their values?
  4. Then, Google the school name. See what it pops up in the news for. Good things or bad things?
  5. If you’re already in Australia, conduct a school visit with your child/ren. Talk with staff at the school. See their facilities. Finally, ask around in the area. People will happily give you their opinions about the school and if they think it’s good or not.

Childcare and childcare subsidies in Australia

If your child isn’t school age yet, there are plenty of childcare options. A quick Google search will yield a range of options and asking other people in the area will result in some opinions about which ones are best.

There is a childcare subsidy in Australia for children who are 13 or younger that meet residency and immunisation requirements. Those Kiwis in Australia on a SCV are eligible for this child care subsidy. This subsidy for a non-school aged child can go up to $215 per child per week, although it is tested against your income. This is well worth checking out to see if you qualify! You must use an approved child care service and meet other criteria in order for this payment to be made.

Types of transport to school

The normal options of public transport apply, with trams, trains and buses used by many students. Walking, biking and scootering are common modes of moving for those close by to their school of choice. It’s not unheard of for kids in rural areas to arrive on horseback (but it is rare).

For rural and suburban kids, public transport on special routes is provided and subsidised by the school. Some private schools supply their own buses. It depends on how far you are from school and the type of school you attend.

School outings/ camps/ trips

Just like every Kiwi kid has fond memories of excursions to farms, camps in the forest, or trips to interesting places like the freezing works, Australia schools offer the same range of opportunities. (Although maybe not to the freezing works, that might be a fun trip that only NZ small rural towns do.)

https://www.schoolactivities.com.au/

This site lists heaps of opportunities that school children may get- from Cockatoo Island in Sydney through to Street Art Tours in Melbourne. Each school will be different and each state’s curriculum will dictate what is appropriate. It’s worth asking when you chat with the school, which excursions or camps they operate each year.

University Entrance in Australia

To attend university in Australia, there are certain requirements you must meet. These different from state to state and from one university to the next. In general, you’ll have needed to complete the Australian year 11 and 12, or many universities offer programs for early school leavers to prepare for university.

For instance, Victoria University requires you to have completed the Victorian Certificate of Education. You can gain this through school, or through the University itself. To find out the entry requirements of your university or TAFE, go to their website.

Kiwis count as domestic students but are not generally eligible for Australian student loans.

There are 43 universities  and 46 TAFE (Technical and Further Education) facilities. They all have different options to study and different pathways to get there, so you will need to spend time finding what institution you want to attend and what qualifications you need to study there. .

Find your perfect education in Australia

Australia has more opportunities than New Zealand, in part due to its large size. If you are planning to move your family to Aus, then your children will be able to receive a great education there.

Take your time and research the options thoroughly. Ask the locals for their suggestions, and make sure you have a school visit to assess if it’s the best option for your child.

The school system is very similar to NZ and any qualifications gained are accepted on both sides of the Tasman, so you can relax knowing that your child has all the same opportunities they would in NZ.

Moving to Australia? Contact us first

Here at Ausmove, we know you have a lot to think about. Moving is more than just packing up your belongings and then buying a new home. If you need a hand with planning, packing, storage or even shipping your pets over the ditch, give us a call. We can take those tasks away from you so you can concentrate on other things that are important- like finding the perfect school.

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