If you are a parent interested in Australian schooling for your child, or you are a student looking to study in Australia at a K-12 school, there are a few differences in the education system you should know about.
Australia is compulsory for children from the ages of 6 to 15 (16 in South Australia and Tasmania). Most children start school when they are younger than 6 and remain at school beyond the age of 15. Below is a comparison of Australian to North American grade levels.
Australian Education Term
North American Equivalent
|Early years of school or infant school
||Preschool to Year 1
||Year 1 to Year 4
||Primary or elementary
||Year 4 to Year 7
||Primary or middle school
||Year 7 to Year 10
||Junior high or high school
||Year 11 and 12
||High school, secondary or CEGEP
The academic year is divided into four terms and runs from late January/early February until December. There is a short holiday between terms (1-2 weeks) and a long summer holiday in December and January.
||January - March
||April - June
||July - September
||October - December
When transferring to an Australian school, North American students will either skip ahead a half year or repeat a half year due to the difference in term dates.
In Australia, parents can choose from government (public) and non-government (private) schools. Government schools operate under the direct responsibility of the relevant State or Territory Minister, while non-government schools, often religious, are established and operate under conditions determined by government registration authorities.
Currently, the Australian government is working towards a national curriculum for schools. The national Australian Curriculum is being developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
My School is a source for detailed information on over 10,000 schools in Australia. Developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), this website publishes nationally comparable data on Australian schools.
There are no school league tables or ranking systems but Australian students consistently score highly in international assessments.
The academic calendar begins in January and ends in December. It is divided into four terms. Each state/territory education department sets its own academic calendar.