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Australian Education System
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Government Independent Catholic

Each Australian State and Territory oversees its own education system, and there are small variations between the education systems of each State and Territory.

There are two main education sectors within each State – Government schools and Non-Government schools. Non-Government schools are classified as either Catholic schools or Independent schools. Most Independent schools have a religious affiliation, but some are non-denominational. All Government schools are non-denominational.

Types of schools

Most Australian schools use modern education methods within a traditional education framework. Children wear a school uniform, which is individual to their school. There are also a few schools which follow a particular educational philosophy, such as Steiner or Montessori.

There are Special Needs schools and special education programs within mainstream schools for disabled children, or children with other specific needs.

Schools often use remedial and extension classes or other approaches to meet the needs of students with differing levels of abilities. Some schools offer specialised programs in areas such as sport, the arts, or academia, for children who are gifted or talented.

There is a range of Boarding schools at Primary and Secondary level in the Private school sector throughout Australia. There are a few Secondary boarding schools, or accommodation, in the Government sector, in some States - mainly for students from remote rural areas. International students can study in schools in Australia.

Boys Girls Co-educational

Most Australian schools are co-educational - for boys and girls. Some Catholic and Independent schools are single-gender, mainly at Secondary level, but sometimes in the Primary years as well. Some Independent single-gender schools offer co-educational classes in the early years.

Nearly all Government schools are co-educational. There are a few single-gender Government Secondary schools in some States in Australia.

Prep Primary and Secondary

Australia children usually attend a Preparatory year of school (often called Prep or Kindergarten), followed by Primary school and then Secondary school (often called High School). Including the Pre-School year, most students are at school for 13 years.

Students usually start in Preparatory school around the ages of four or five, and must start school by the age of six. Entry age requirements can vary by more than six months between schools and States.

Primary and Secondary schools are mostly in separate locations, but some Catholic schools and many Independent schools have Primary and Secondary schools on the same campus.


At Primary school level there is an emphasis on English reading and writing, mathematics and the Study of Society and the Environment (SOSE). Students usually also have music, sport, drama, computer studies, science, art, and learn a language (LOTE). Often there are many extra curricular activities offered outside of class time, such as choir, orchestra, chess or sport.

In the early Secondary years students continue to study English and Mathematics and other core subjects. As they progress through their Secondary years, students must study English, but can start to select which other subjects they study and they begin to specialise in certain areas of learning. Again there are many extra curricular activities on offer, such as debating, school musicals or sports competitions.

Finishing school

Secondary school finishes at Year 12. Depending on the State, students must continue their education until 15, 16 or 17 years of age. Further studies can be continued at Universities or TAFE (Technical and Further Education).


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