A Brief Guide to Choosing a School in Australia

One of the most frequently asked questions from people who are moving into Australia are “How do I choose a school for my children?”. It’s not an easy task with a distance of 10,000 miles so let’s take a look at some aspects you have to think about.

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It all comes down to your personal preferences and what you are able to afford. My children both attended the public school system in Western Australia and onto University therefore, for me, public schools have been excellent. The public schools are usually extremely diverse, and they tend to have their primary students from the local area.

If you choose to go to a private school, be aware that some schools are faith founded and adhere to a religious program with traditional values, usually all girls and boys schools. They are proud of their sports and have a lot of great sports programs. They generally have a good amount of funding and this is what you’d expect given that they also receive money from the government at the cost that public school. The top private schools can charge a fee of $30,000 each year, so be sure you are aware of the effect fees for school can have on your daily costs.

It’s not everyone’s budget to enroll their kids in the best private school, but don’t be discouraged by the fact that public schools often beat best private schools on the rankings of schools despite low budget. It is important to keep in mind that public schools aren’t completely free. The best public schools can charge up to $2,000 for students in the year 12. There may be a suggestion of voluntary contributions but if your child wants to be fully involved, you’ll be required to pay , so you’ll have to plan for this.

Cost is one aspect that determines the location we send our children to school. The other aspect is the location we live in. The majority of parents reside near to where they work and this can determine which schools are accessible to you. Be aware that the quality of education isn’t only about the results. According to the ACER (Australian Council on Educational Research) director Geoff Masters “The quality of education provided by a school is best judged not by its final results but by the difference it makes, taking into account students’ starting points. A school making a large difference ‘value adding’ to students’ levels of achievement and life chances may deliver ‘better education’, despite its lower Year 12 results.” It is a good idea to think about more than just the results.

Australia as well as the UK also uses league tables to compare schools. If you decide to use it, keep in mind the words of the ACER Chief Executive above about the value of schools to the education of students. There is more information about league tables and how to compare schools in the region you’d like to relocate into on myschool.edu.au website. It covers all education system across Australia.

The Myschool website has an extensive array of information about schools, including the demographics of each school , of which there are approximately 9,500. It also provides the results of NAPLAN test performance data as well as student attendance and school financial information, including capital expenditure as well as the sources for funding. It’s a great source of information , and you can compare the literacy and numeracy standards in local schools with standards set by the state. While this can provide an idea of the current standards, it is crucial to look at the achievements of students in the years 11 and 12. For instance, years seven and nine NAPLAN tests could reveal the majority of students within the lowest brackets the test results. However, the school has an outstanding rate of achievement in students who take both ATAR (university students More on this in the future) as well as vocational education (non ATAR). This suggests that the school has an the best system for bringing the students who are struggling to speed before they graduate. An important aspect to think about.

If you are interested, NAPLAN is part of NAPLAN, which stands for National Assessment Program – literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) and is an annual test of students in the years 3 5, 7, and 9. NAPLAN is an integral element in the calendar of schools since. Assessments are conducted across the country every year during the second full week of May. The tests are comprised of four domains or areas that cover:

* Reading

* Writing

* Conventions of language (spelling punctuation and grammar)

* Numeracy

Let’s try to clarify the ATAR process, which isn’t an easy job, I would add. In simple terms, the simplest way, an ATAR score is defined as a percentage score that ranges from “less than 30” up to a maximum score of 99.95 (in an increment of 0.05). that is 0.05). It’s as clear as mud I think. In simple terms, it’s an amount that indicates the student’s position in relation to their peers after completing the secondary schooling. The score is used by universities and tertiary education programs to determine the ranking and selection of potential students. The higher your ATAR score, the more universities you can select from. The majority of universities will require the minimum ATAR scores to be able to enroll in every course they offer.

The school system in a nutshell

Australia is comprised of a collection of states and territories, each with their own government that is accountable for its own education. This means that there are some distinctions between states regarding the manner in which schools function. There is a common framework however that all schools are required to adhere to in order to create a uniformity across the country. The majority of states have similar programs that run from kindergarten to year seven or six. Schools for high school tend to operate from year 7 through 10 and senior high school is in operation from year 11 until year 12. Most schools cover the entire period from year 7 to year 12, however, there are some specialist schools that only operate from years 7-10 or 11 and 12 across all states. In certain states, schools which only operate in years 11 and 12 have the ability to specialize in specific areas , becoming Regional Training Organisations (RTO’s) which allow students to participate in pre-apprenticeships.

Each state has its own accreditation, for instance the state of Western Australia students achieve the Western Australian Certificate of Education at the end of Year 12. (WACE). The Eastern states, the Australian Capital Territory students are given an ACT Certificate. The ACT Certificate is awarded in New South Wales they offer the Higher School Certificate, in Queensland it’s the Queensland Certificate of Education. In Victoria (yes you’ve already guessed that) is that they offer the Victorian Certificate of Education or the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. When you move west to South Australia they have the South Australian Certificate of Education and to the Northern Territory its known as the Northern Territory Certificate Education.

If you’re worried that you might have to relocate states like I did, rest sure you are safe. All Australian schools adhere to an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) that has 10 levels that link the vocational, school and university education qualifications to one system. This allows for some uniformity across states, and allows students to be able to easily move from one stage of education to the next and from one school to another. In the beginning, there may be some variations, but these are more practical than the content of the subject. For the years 11-12, it could be more important particularly for students who are university bound because specialist areas may differ between schools and from state to state. It is also influenced by the teacher availability within the subject you choose.

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