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Finding the right school for your children

For many General Practitioners, education is a very important factor when considering a move to Australia. The information provided below is a brief guide on the Australian education system including links for further research.

Childcare and Early Childhood Education

In Australia there are both corporate and non-corporate childcare centres to choose between. They cater for children up to their 6th birthday, which is the age at which they are legally required to be at school. Most centres are open between 7.00am and 6.00pm. Australia has a National Quality Framework for these institutions to ensure high quality and early learning.

If you prefer your child to be cared for within a home environment, there is also the option of family day care.

Preschool

Preschool education is offered to children aged 3 to 5. It is not compulsory and constitutes the year before the preparatory year. It combines structured learning and creative individual activities. Programs consist of several half-day sessions, or the equivalent in full days.

Many preschools and primary schools require that children have been vaccinated against childhood illnesses such as polio, measles, smallpox, and diphtheria, so make sure you bring the adequate documentation from your country of origin.

Primary and Secondary school

The high quality of the Australian education system is internationally recognised. In the 2009 OECD PISA ranking, Australia performed in the “above average” group in both literacy (7 of 65) and mathematics (13 of 65). Australia also has a great deal of experience with integrating new arrivals from other countries. Most schools have specifically trained ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers.

By law, children have to start school by their sixth’s birthday. Following the initial preparatory year or kindergarten year, school grade levels are numbered Year 1 to Year 12. Although the states each have their own education systems, which may vary, they all follow the same basic model – the Australian Curriculum. The school year is divided into four terms and runs from late January/early February until mid/late December.

There are three kinds of schools in Australia: government, catholic and independent. To learn more about their social structure and educational ranking, you can look them up at the myschool website. Yet please bear in mind that neither website information nor statistics can give a complete picture – the best way is still to visit schools in person and meet with the principal/teachers.

University Education

Australian universities are internationally renowned for their excellence in teaching and research. In the 2011/12 Times Higher Education World University Ranking, seven Australian universities were named among the world’s top 200 higher education institutions.

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