Education in Australia

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Education in Australia
Flag of Australia.svg
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth Christopher Pyne
National education budget (2009)
Budget $489 million (5.10% of GDP)[1][2] – 80th ranking of government expenditure on education worldwide.[3]
General details
Primary languages English
System type Federal
Established compulsory education 1830s[4]
1870s[4]
Literacy (2003)
Total 99%[2]
Male 99%[2]
Female 99%[2]
Enrollment (2008)
Total 20.4% of population[5][6]
Primary 1.9 million[5]
Secondary 1.4 million[5]
Post secondary 1 million[7]
Attainment (2008)
Secondary diploma 75%[5]
Post-secondary diploma 34%[citation needed]
Adults employed in the education and training industry as a percentage of the adult population in Australia divided geographically by statistical local area, at the 2011 census

Education in Australia is primarily the responsibility of the states and territories. Each state or territory government provides funding and regulates the public and private schools within its governing area. The federal government helps fund the public universities, but was not involved in setting university curriculum.[8] As of 2012, the Australian National Curriculum,[9] under development and trial for several years, has already been adopted by some schools and will become mandatory soon. Generally, education in Australia follows the three-tier model which includes primary education (primary schools), followed by secondary education (secondary schools/high schools) and tertiary education (Universities, TAFE colleges and Vocation Education and Training providers/VET providers).

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2006 evaluation ranked the Australian education system as sixth for reading, eighth for science and thirteenth for mathematics, on a worldwide scale including 56 countries.[10] The PISA 2009 evaluation ranked the Australian education system as sixth for reading, seventh for science and ninth for mathematics, an improvement relative to the 2006 rankings.[11]

In 2012, education firm Pearson ranked Australian education as thirteenth in the world [12]

The Education Index, published with the UN's Human Development Index in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Australia as 0.993, amongst the highest in the world, tied for first with Denmark and Finland.[13]

Education in Australia is compulsory between the ages of five and fifteen to seventeen, depending on the state or territory, and date of birth.[14] Post-compulsory education is regulated within the Australian Qualifications Framework, a unified system of national qualifications in schools, vocational education and training (TAFE) and the higher education sector (university).

The academic year in Australia varies between states and institutions, but generally runs from late January/early February until mid-December for primary and secondary schools, with slight variations in the inter-term holidays[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22] and TAFE colleges,[23][24][25] and from late February until mid-November for universities with seasonal holidays and breaks for each educational institute.[26]

Pre-school[edit]

Pre-school and pre-prep programmes in Australia are relatively unregulated, and are not compulsory.[27] The first exposure many Australian children have to learning with others outside of traditional parenting is day care or a parent-run playgroup.[28] This sort of activity is not generally considered schooling, as pre-school education is separate from primary school in all states and territories, except Western Australia where pre-school education is taught as part of the primary school system.[29] In Queensland, pre-school programmes are often called Kindergarten or Pre-Prep, and are usually privately run but attract state government funding if run for at least 600 hours a year and delivered by a registered teacher.[30]

Pre-schools are usually run by the state and territory governments, except in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales where they are more often run by local councils, community groups or private organisations.[29] Pre-school is offered to three- to five-year-olds; attendance numbers vary widely between the states, but 85.7% of children attended pre-school the year before school.[31] The year before a child is due to attend primary school is the main year for pre-school education. This year is far more commonly attended, and may take the form of a few hours of activity during weekdays.[32]

Responsibility for pre-schools in New South Wales and Victoria, lies with the Department of Education and Communities and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), respectively.[33] In all other states and territories of Australia, responsibility for pre-schools lie with the relevant education department.[29]

The average net cost (taking into account the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Tax Rebate entitlements) for a long day care in Australia is $3.85 per hour,[34] or a net cost of around $46 a day for a long day care service offering 12-hour days.

School[edit]

School education in Australia is compulsory between certain ages as specified by state or territory legislation. Depending on the state or territory, and date of birth of the child, school is compulsory from the age of five to six to the age of fifteen to seventeen.[14] In recent years, over three quarters of students stay at school until they are seventeen. Government schools educate approximately 65% of Australian students, with approximately 34% in Catholic and independent schools.[5] A small portion of students are legally home-schooled, particularly in rural areas.[35]

Government schools (also known as public schools) are free to attend for Australian citizens and permanent residents, while Catholic and independent schools usually charge attendance fees.[36] However in addition to attendance fees; stationery, textbooks, uniforms, school camps and other schooling costs are not covered under government funding. The additional cost for schooling has been estimated to be on average $316 per year per child.[37][38]

Regardless of whether a school is part of the Government, Catholic or independent systems, they are required to adhere to the same curriculum frameworks of their state or territory. The curriculum framework however provides for some flexibility in the syllabus, so that subjects such as religious education can be taught. Most school students wear uniforms,[39] although there are varying expectations and some Australian schools do not require uniforms. A common movement among secondary schools to support student voice has taken form as organisations such as VicSRC in Victoria bring together student leaders to promote school improvement.

Catholic and Independent schools[edit]

In 2010 66% of students in Australia attended government schools, 20% attended Catholic schools and 14% attended independent schools.[40] In 2000 these figures were 69%, 20% and 11% respectively.

Most Catholic schools are either run by their local parish, local diocese and their state's Catholic education department.[41][42] independent schools include schools operated by secular educational philosophies such as Montessori, however, the majority of independent schools are religious, being Protestant, Jewish, Islamic or non-denominational.[43]

Some Catholic and independent schools charge high fees, and because of this Government funding for these schools is often criticised by the Australian Education Union and the Greens.[44][45]

Common ages[edit]

Students may be slightly younger or older than stated below, due to variation between states and territories. The name for the first year of primary school varies considerably between states and territories, e.g. what is known as kindergarten in ACT and NSW may mean the year preceding the first year of primary school or preschool in other states and territories.[46][47][48][49][50] Some states vary in whether Year 7 is part of the primary or secondary years,[51] as well as the existence of a middle school system.[52]

Primary[edit]

People attending an infants or primary school as a percentage of the local population at the 2011 census, geographically subdivided by statistical local area
  • Kindergarten (QLD) 3- to 4-year-olds[48]
  • Pre-school / kindergarten
  • Kindergarten / reception / prep / pre-primary National Curriculum this year-level will be renamed: Foundation Year
  • Grade/Year 1: 6- to 7-year-olds
  • Grade/Year 2: 7- to 8-year-olds
  • Grade/Year 3: 8- to 9-year-olds
  • Grade/Year 4: 9- to 10-year-olds
  • Grade/Year 5: 10- to 11-year-olds
  • Grade/Year 6: 11- to 12-year-olds
  • Grade/Year 7: 12- to 13-year-olds (QLD, SA, WA)[51]

Secondary[edit]

People attending secondary school as a percentage of the local population at the 2011 census, geographically subdivided by statistical local area
  • Year 7: 12- to 13-year-olds (ACT, NSW, NT, TAS, VIC)[51]
  • Year 8: 13- to 14- and 15 year-olds
  • Year 9: 14- to 15-year-olds
  • Year 10: 15- to 16-year-olds
  • Year 11: 16- to 17-year-olds
  • Year 12: 17- to 18-year-olds

Comparison of ages and year levels across states and territories[edit]

Students can undertake senior school studies for up to three years. Students who complete year 12 under a reduced workload generally do this in two years, the latter being referred to as "year 13".[53][54][55]

Year(s) in school 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Australian Capital Territory[51] Primary school High school College
Kindergarten Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
New South Wales[51] Primary school High school
Kindergarten Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
Northern Territory[56] Primary school High school
Prep Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
Queensland[57] Primary school High school
Prep Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
South Australia[51] Primary school High school
Prep Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
Tasmania[51] Primary school High school College
Prep Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
Victoria[51] Primary school High school
Prep or Foundation Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
Western Australia[51] Primary school High school
Kindergarten Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 Year 12
Age to be in school[edit]

Under the National Curriculum being developed, the first year of schooling will be known as "foundation".[58]

In the Northern Territory, primary schools often include a pre-school. In Western Australia, primary schools often include two pre-school years.[citation needed]

From 2013, South Australia will have one reception intake at the beginning of term 1.[59]

In some states and territories, children that have been formally assessed and identified as gifted may begin school earlier than the stated minimum age. Additionally, gifted students may "skip" a subject or advance to a higher academic year level in schooling.[60]

State or

territory

Age in the year

before year 1

Compulsory age Nomenclature year

before school

Nomenclature year

before year 1

ACT[46] Age 5 on 30 April Year in which

child turns 6

Pre-school Kindergarten
NT[47] Age 5 on 30 June Year in which

child turns 6

Pre-school Transition
NSW[47] Age 5 on 31 July Year in which

child turns 6

Pre-school Kindergarten
QLD[48] Age 5 on 30 June Year in which

child turns 6

Kindergarten Preparatory
SA [49] Age 5 on 1 January Year in which

child turns 6

Kindergarten Reception
TAS[47] Age 5 on 1 January Year in which

child turns 6

Kindergarten Prep
VIC[50] Age 5 on 30 April Year in which

child turns 6

Pre-school Preparatory
WA[47] Age 5 on 30 June Year in which

child turns 6

Kindergarten Pre-primary

Tertiary[edit]

People attending a tertiary institution as a percentage of the local population at the 2011 census, geographically subdivided by statistical local area
The Mitchell Building at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, the third oldest university in the country.
Total employment in tertiary education (thousands of people) since 1984

Tertiary education (or higher education) in Australia is primarily study at university or a technical college[61] in order to receive a qualification or further skills and training.[62] A higher education provider is a body that is established or recognised by or under the law of the Australian Government, a State, the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory.[63] VET providers, both public and private are registered by State and Territory governments.

In 2009, the Australian higher education system consisted of:

  • 41 universities, of which 37 are public institutions, 2 are private, and 2 are Australian branches of overseas universities;
  • 3 other self-accrediting higher education institutions; and
  • non-self-accrediting higher education providers accredited by State and Territory authorities, numbering more than 150 as listed on State and Territory registers. These include several that are registered in more than one State and Territory.

The non-self-accrediting higher education providers form a diverse group of specialised, mainly private, providers that range in size and include theological colleges and other providers that offer courses in business, information technology, natural therapies, hospitality, health, law and accounting.

Federal departments[edit]

Education in Australia has been the responsibility of the following departments:

See also[edit]

Overview[edit]

Qualifications[edit]

Tests[edit]

Agencies[edit]

Lists of schools[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]