School Systems in Australia
There are 3 main sectors of schools in Australia:
- public schools
- Catholic Systemic schools
- independent school
According to results from Australia Bureau of Statistics, in 2006 there were 2/3 of all students enrolled in public schools and 1/3 of in catholic systemic schools and independents schools. In NSW out of 3099 schools there were 2187 government schools, 584 Catholic Systemic schools and 328 independent schools.
All schools are registered with NSW Board of Studies and follow the core curriculum and educational directions set by the Board. Financially all schools are accountable to the Board of Studies and to other government authorities.
Public schools are owned and operated by the NSW Department of Education and Training.
Catholic Systemic Schools
The Catholic Systemic schools, comprises 11 separate diocesan school systems and are administered by Catholic Education Offices of these dioceses.
The independent schools are run independently by religious groups or by their own organizations. Therefore they may follow a particular religious philosophy or certain types of educational philosophies such as Rudolf Steiner Schools and Montessori Schools.
To view Independent Schooling in Australia Snapshot 2008 (by Independent Schools Council of Australia), click HERE.
Additional to the 3 main sectors of schools, there are a small percentage of families who choose home schooling for their children. The primary educators for home schooling of children are the parents of the children. In NSW home schooling registration is administrated by the Board of Studies.
The most common methods taken by the parents for home schooling are:
- Structured approach: using curriculum or text from various educational sources;
- Classical education: emphasise on the thinking skills via communication;
- Unit studies: The study of any topic will naturally require the exercising of many different skills thus making learning more relevant and enjoyable; and
- Natural learning: Children learn by observing other activity, by sharing the duties in the running of the family home and business, and by extending the learning to expert sources outside the family such as a book, a course or a tutor.
School education includes primary school education and secondary or high school education. The compulsory age for education is from Kindergarten or Preparatory year to Year 10 when the student turns to 15 years of age.
In Australia, the school education focuses more on encouraging children's interests and enthusiasm in learning, as well as in teaching them self-discipline, research and learning by discovery.
Education at public schools is minimal. There is usually no compulsory school fees for students at public schools. The only charges will usually be a small fee to cover extra activities, such as school excursions, school swimming lessions, books, as well as school building funds which are tax deductible. Parents are responsible to send children to school in the required school uniforms.
Catholic systemic schools and independent schools set their own fee structure and receive a subsidy from both Federal and State governments.
Government Financial Assistance
Back to School Allowance
Each student enrolled from Kindergarten to Year 12 in Term 1 will receive $50 Back to School Allowance from the NSW State Government each year. This allowance is to assist families with the costs of schooling of their children.
Special Needs Transport Service:
The Department of Education and Training arranges transport to and/or from school for some students with disabilities, behaviour disorders and learning difficulties, when their parents or caregivers responsible for transport are unable to do so.
- Commonwealth Government ABSTUDY:
A fortnight payment made to Indigenous secondary or tertiary students or full-time Australian Apprentices to stay at school or go on to further studies.
- Commonwealth Government Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme:
Assisting families with primary or secondary students who cannot go to appropriate state schools because of geographical isolation.
- Commonwealth Government Childcare Allowance:
A supplementary payment for parents or carers who provide daily care and attention for children with a disability or severe medical condition at home.
Primary School Education
Primary school education covers students from Kindergarten or Preparatory year to Year 6. A child starts primary school when he or she is 5 or 6 years of age and finishes Year 6 when he or she is 12 or 13 years of age.
While the school system of each State or Territory in Australia operates in a similar manner, the starting school age varies from State/ Territory to State/ Territory:
|Starting School Age
|Cut-off date for Enrolment
||End Jan/Start of Term1
|Compulsory Age for Schooling
Under special circumstances, children may be enrolled at a younger age. However, the school readiness of the child and the special circumstances will need to be assessed by the school principal.
Starting Kindergarten - more information on how to prepare a preschooler for the "Big School".
Primary Curriculum In NSW
NSW Board of Studies sets out curriculum and syllabuses for all schools in NSW and provides support materials.
The primary Curriculum is split into 3 stages:
- Stage 1: Kindergarten to Year 2;
- Stage 2: Year 3 and 4; and
- Stage 3: Year 5 and 6
There are 8 subjects taught throughout the primary school years:
- Science and Technology
- PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education)
- HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment)
- Creative Arts
Primary School Assessments and Exams in NSW
National Assessments (NAPLAN) in Year 3 and Year 5 :
compulsory assessments undertaking by students in Year 3 and 5, (also in year 7 and 9 in high schools) in all Australian schools from 2008. These assessments replace the previous Basic Skills Tests in NSW and to be used to assess students' literacy and numeracy skills. For further information, click HERE for details and sample tests.
School Assessment Grading (A-E):
The Common Grade Scale can be used to report students' achievement in both primary and junior secondary years in all NSW schools.
Opportunity Class Test in Year 4:
A non-compulsory test for academically gifted and talented students who choose to start Year 5 in an opportunity class in the public school system.
Selective High Schoo Test in Year 6 :
A non-compulsory test for academically gifted and talented students who choose to start Year 7 in a public selective school.
International Competitions and Assessments for Schools(ICAS)
Is conducted by Educational Assessment Australia, University of New South Wales. It covers the following subjects:
- English (Year 3 – Year 10)
- Mathematics (Year 3 – Year 10)
- Science (Year 3 – Year 12)
- Computer Skills (Year 3 – Year 10)
- Writing (Year 3 – Year 10)
- Spelling (Year 3 – Year 7)
- General Achievement Test (GAT) (Year 6, 7 and 8)
These are non-compulsory assessments.
Special Programs in NSW Primary Schools
Gifted and Talented Programs
In public school system, there are:
In NSW Catholic Systemic schools and independent schools offer their own Gifted and Talented programs, extension programs or differentiate Learning to their students to suit the individual needs and to encourage the development of these students.
NSW Associationn for Gifted & Talented Children Inc. is a not for profit organization that provides support and resources for Gifted and Talented education. There are other organizations conducting enrichment workshops and course for gifted and talented school children, such as GERRIC , MUSEC.
English as a Second Language Programs (ESL)
available to all students of various stages.
Students with disabilities or learning difficulties may be enrolled in a school that can cater for the individual needs. Depending on the severities of the disabilities or the learning difficulties, the students may be educated in:
- regular classes
- support classes in regular schools
- special schools
Many independent schools offer scholarships to students, in particular, to high school students.
Secondary School Education
High School Curriculum(Year 7-10)
The following subjects are taught during Year 7 to Year 10:
Assessments and Exams
National Assessments in Year 7 and Year 9 are to replace the SNAP and ELLA in NSW and to assess students' literacy and numeracy skills.
School Certificate in Year 10.
Higher School Certificate (HSC) in Year 12.
International Baccalaureate (IB) Course:
A comprehensive and rigorous two-year curriculum (usually taken in the final two years of high school) that is similar to the final year of secondary school in Europe leads to award of a diploma. Some tertiary institutions in US and Europe award credit or advanced placement to students who have completed an IB program.
Community Language Learning
Academic Assistance – Tutoring and Homework Help
Children need tutoring are those who:
- Experiencing difficulties in keeping up with the expected standard in their school work;
- In need of exam preparations, eg. before HSC.
The forms of tutoring currently available:
- Home tutoring: one on one tutoring;
- School-based tutoring: provided by schools to their students after school hours;
- Coaching colleges: children participating in a class-like learning together with other children of similar age in after school hours. The trainers working in coaching colleges are usually qualified teachers themselves.
- E-tutors: extra help come from various computer programs and online tutoring
- Homework Help: many local councils' libraries provide free after school homework help, either by a staff member of the library or an online program: E-Tutor.