Plan on sending your child to Australia?
Here is a quick guide to Australia’s educational system, including for younger children such as toddlers and preschoolers as well as those of school age.
In Australia, the Early Years Learning Framework governs young children’s learning from birth to five years, as well as their transition to school.
It has a strong emphasis on play-based learning, recognising the importance of communication and language along with social and emotional development.
According to the Australian Government, the framework describes childhood as a time of belonging, being and becoming:
- Belonging – children feel they belong because of the relationships they have with their family, community, culture and place
- Being – children have time to play, try new things and have fun
- Becoming – children form their sense of identity from an early age, shaping the type of adult they will become.
This framework is similar to England’s “Early Years Foundation Stage,” which teaches children mainly through games and play.
In Japan, the main objective of early childhood care and education is for children to learn the “basic routines of daily life and study habits.” The majority of the child’s time is used for free play, with minimal direct instruction from the teacher.
Which is the better system – more direct teacher control or more free play? Educational scholars have different theories, but each system has its own benefits.
However, if you bring your child to Australia, you are guaranteed a world-class, English-language education, that will make a lifelong difference for your child.
More than 1.3 million children aged 12 and under were expected to attend some form of government-approved or funded childcare service in fiscal 2019, with more than 11,000 centres in operation nationwide.
As well as offering care, childcare and early learning services offer your child the opportunity to gain emotional, learning and social skills. These skills can be vital to their development, especially skills gained in an international, multicultural environment such as Australia.
When choosing the best type of care for your child, some questions to ask yourself include:
- How many hours of care are needed – mornings, afternoons or both?
- Do you prefer a home environment or centre?
- What experience and qualifications do the centre’s staff have?
- Does the service have a preschool program?
- What is the centre’s daily routine?
- What learning and play opportunities do you want for your child?
- Does the centre offer meals? Is the meal plan available?
- Does the service provide nappies (diapers) for children aged under 2?
- What is the carer-to-child ratio at the centre?
- What government support is available for the fees?
Australia offers a number of different childcare and early learning services, comprising family day care, in home care, long day care, occasional care and outside school hours care:
Family day care
Flexible home-based education via a network of educators, with services including all-day care, part-time, casual and other times. Most of these services are government-approved, making them eligible for government fee support.
In home care
Similar to family day care, but the carer looks after the child in your home. This is suitable for families whose children cannot be cared for by other services, such as those with an illness or disability, or those living in a rural or remote area.
Long day care
Centre-based care, usually operating between 7.30am and 6pm, offering professional care for children aged six years and under. Children usually grouped into rooms according to their age and developmental stage. Importantly, families using these services may be eligible for government support.
Professional care for children on a casual basis, such as for parents who work irregular hours and only need childcare at certain times.
Outside school hours care
Care for primary school aged children, before and after school (7.30am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm), during school holidays and on pupil-free days. Centres are usually located at primary schools, such as in the school hall, and most are approved for government fee support.
The Australian government offers a range of payments and services to assist parents with the cost of childcare.
Since 2 July 2018, the new Child Care Subsidy has replaced previous benefits and is paid directly to providers.
Those eligible must be living in Australia with Australian citizenship or holding a permanent visa or other visa categories, or alternatively have been sponsored by the Australian government to study in Australia.
This system replaced the previous system, which offered payments including the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.
Each Australian state and territory has a different approach to preschool (also known as kindergarten), with some operating independently and some based within primary schools.
Early childhood education is not compulsory in Australia and is delivered through various settings, including childcare centres and preschools or kindergartens, in the year before full-time schooling.
The requirements for enrolling students and school fees vary across the different states and territories, and across schools.
In Queensland, primary school consists of prep to year six, with prep the first year of schooling. Since 2017, it has been compulsory for Queensland children to undertake prep prior to commencing year one.
To enrol in prep, your child must be aged five years by 30 June in the year of his or her proposed attendance. You can enrol your child by contacting the school directly, providing proof of your child’s date of birth, such as a passport.
School education in Australia is compulsory between the ages of six and 16. It is divided into:
- Primary school – seven or eight years, starting at kindergarten/prepatory through to Year 6 or 7
- Secondary school – three or four years, from Years 7 to 10 or 8 to 10
- Senior secondary school – two years comprising Years 11 and 12.
For schools, there are usually four terms starting in late January or early February. In contrast, English-language courses can range from five weeks to a year and start throughout the year.
This differs to Japan, where the school year starts in April and ends in March, comprising a compulsory six years of elementary (primary) school and three years at junior high school.
For younger children, kindergartens provide three years of care and education for those aged three years or older, while daycare centres accept infants and children under elementary school age.
In Britain, the academic year starts at the beginning of September and is divided into three separate terms. The national curriculum is divided into five key stages, with all children required to attend full-time education until the age of 16.
However in the United States, the academic year generally begins in mid-August and ends in early June. Children attend kindergarten at the age of five, followed by elementary school from age six, middle school for grades six to eight and high school for grades nine to 12.
Looking for more information on children’s education in Australia? Talk to us at Hello Kids about the best option for your child and how we can help find the right centre in the right location that best suits their needs.