Australian Education Standards Compared to the UK and USA.

I think it started when I got an email from Vivienne, a lady who has moved from Australia to the UK. She felt quite strongly that educational standards in the UK were better than here in Australia.

I promised to look into it.teacher

Then, in a post I wrote about the cost of education in Australia, Waleed asked….

“Here in the UK during year 10 and 11 (secondary school) we take GCSE examination. 62.4% get A*-C Grades (college only accepts you if you have A* TO C) with 20% GETTING A*/A.
I would like to know what’s the equivalent in Australia and percentage.

I promised to look into it again. Today I do.

Firstly, let me get my cynical statement about statistics out of the way. When I was a lad, we used to take “O” levels and “A” levels. I left school, one week shy of my 16th birthday, with four “O” levels tucked under my arm.

Where I lived, this was regarded as near genius at the time. These days,  kids can often come away with 10 to 12  “A” grade GCSEs when in our day we never knew there were that many subjects!

So, have educational standards improved over the years? Or is it the case that governments and education authorities have learned how to better present themselves to the public?

Cynicism aside, here’s what I found.

Firstly, I cannot answer Waleed’s question directly. Why? Because in Australia, each separate state runs its own school system and therefore each has a different exam at the end, like this:

The BobinOz Rough Guide to Education

In Australian Capital Territory, each student gets a year 12 certificate which lists the subjects they have taken and the results are achieved.

In New South Wales, a student’s achievements are based on a combination of the results of Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams along with their accumulated subject results.

In Northern Territory they have the Northern Territory Certificate of Education, exams which tests student’s abilities in various subjects.

In Queensland students who graduate in year 12 received a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE), based mainly on tasks submitted throughout the relevant years.

In South Australia they do a similar thing as QLD, but theirs is called a South Australian Certificate of Education.

In Tasmania it is, yes you’ve guessed it, the Tasmanian Certificate of Education, again based on students accumulative results.

In Victoria, they call it the Victoria Certificate of Education (VCE), but this one is an actual exam at the end of year 12.

Finally, in Western Australia, students are encouraged to take the Western Australia Certificate of Education, which are individual subject exams similar to those in Victoria and NT.

On top of all that, Queensland call their highest achievers VHA’s, Very High Achievers whilst NSW call theirs DA’s, Distinguished Achievers. I didn’t bother to see what the others do. But hopefully, everyone can now see how impossible it would be to answer Waleed’s question.

We’re talking grids, matrixes and headaches! But there is an easier way.


This stands for “Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study” and it’s a bunch of really clever people that have worked it all out for us. Every four years they look at the educational standards achieved in countries all around the world.

They look at both maths and science for year 4 and year 8 students. Here’s a snapshot of their results for 2007.

Year Four Maths.

  • Hong Kong: 607 points: Top.
  • England:541 points: 7th.
  • USA: 529 points: 11th.
  • Australia: 516 points: 14th
  • Scotland: 494 points: 22nd.

Year Eight Maths.

  • Chinese Taipei: 598 points: Top.
  • England:513 points: 7th.
  • USA: 508 points: 9th.
  • Australia: 496 points: 14th
  • Scotland: 487 points: 17th

Year Four Science.

  • Singapore: 587 points: Top.
  • England:542 points: 7th.
  • USA: 539 points: 8th.
  • Australia: 527 points: 13th
  • Scotland: 500 points: 23rd.

Year Eight Science.

  • Singapore: 567 points: Top.
  • England:542 points: 5th.
  • USA: 520 points: 11th.
  • Australia: 515 points: 13th
  • Scotland: 496 points: 15th.

The result is clear-cut, almost. Educational standards in England are certainly better than here in Australia with the USA somewhere in between. But education in Scotland is not as good as it is here in Australia, casting doubt over whether an argument about education in Australia versus the UK has a clear winner.

So England wins!

But hold on one cotton picking minute.


This stands for “Programme for International Student Assessment” – another bunch of really clever people and this lot look at the educational achievements of 15-year-olds around the world. Every three years they give their results for science, reading and mathematics. Here’s their results for 2006:


  • Finland: 563 points: Top
  • Australia: 527 points: 8th.
  • UK: 515: 14th
  • USA: 489: 29th.


  • Chinese Taipei: 549 points: Top.
  • Australia: 520 points: 13th.
  • UK: 495: 24th
  • USA: 474: 35th


  • Korea: 556 points: Top
  • Australia: 513 points: 7th.
  • UK: 495: 17th
  • USA: Do not appear to have been assessed in 2006. But in 2000 they came 15th with 504 points.

So, now you have all the facts, but if you need more, visit the US Department of Education and look at TIMSS and PISA . If you can work out which country has the best educational system between the UK, the USA and Australia, you’re a smarter man than me. All I could get from all this was that Chinese Taipei are pretty good at maths.

So I’m calling it a draw.

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{ 168 comments… add one }
  • Janey August 4, 2016, 12:10 pm | Link

    The thing I don’t get is that if I understand correctly they seem to do 2 less years of school education in Australia. They start compulsory schooling a year later and go on to Uni after year 12 vs Y13 in UK (I’ve just moved to Australia so I may have misunderstood this). But presumably at the end of it all an employer looking at and Australian educated applicant with say a Business degree and a UK with a Business degree would see them as equal?

    My experience so far is that my Y5 child is way ahead of his peers here but my Y7 child is slightly behind. Is Y6 an intensive year in Australia,as in the UK I think it can actually be quite laid back in Y6. The Australian kids must catch up somewhere as they seem to come out about the same!

    • BobinOz August 4, 2016, 8:35 pm | Link

      No, I think it’s the same here, our kids do seven years in primary school and then six years in secondary school. In primary school the first year is called ‘prep’, followed by grade 1 through to grade 6. They start secondary school in grade 7 which goes through to grade 12. By that time they are usually 17 years of age.

      For the second part of your question I’ll be best leaving that for somebody who understands the education system is of both countries that are than I do. Anybody know anything about this?

  • Anna July 7, 2016, 1:40 pm | Link

    I have just had one of my nephews staying with us. He has just finished school in Edinburgh and is having a gap year before going to uni. He was amazed at what my G5 and g6 kids are doing at school. He offered to help the G5 with her homework and couldn’t believe the spelling, analysis of the book she was reading and couldn’t follow the worded math problems. He didn’t know the meaning of most of her spelling words. His opinion is what they are doing in primary school is what he did in the 2nd year of high school!! I think the Aussie system gives a more rounded education and they seem to have many more opportunities.

    I was educated in both state and private schools in Scotland and always felt the state school taught me to learn and the private school to memorise and pass exams! The Aussie system seems to be more about the whole child and how to learn rather than just memorising facts. I wouldn’t go back for anything as I think my kids are getting a much nicer life here than they would have had in Glasgow.

    • BobinOz July 8, 2016, 5:34 pm | Link

      Yes, I noticed the same thing myself, I mentioned it to Becky in these comments below back in April 2014, so that would have been when Elizabeth was also in grade 5. I couldn’t believe some of the words she was learning to spell, very impressive.

      The best bit of all though is that she loves going to school, she loved her junior school, and she is now loving her senior school. So they are certainly doing something right here, and like yourself, I think she is much better off here than she would have been back in the UK.

  • Carolynn May 27, 2016, 9:13 am | Link

    I found this by chance as I need to work out when to return to Australia with my three boys. So we left Sydney a year and a half now to come back to the UK because of family illness. When I arrived I found it very hard to get my kids into a school at all. There are just too many people in the UK and the schools are struggling to fit everyone in. Eventually three different schools later and upto one and half hours driving at drop off and pick up we have settled in. It wasn’t long before we got a letter from the schools stating that our child was behind in maths. In fact they were so behind that they were at the lowest of the class that gets help for maths. Perhaps I should tell you the ages of the boys when we arrived 13, 11 and 9 all educated in Sydney. Luckily one of my sons has caught up but the other two have many sessions to help them catch up. The UK is very focused on results and I have to say in my option they are way ahead of the Australian education system. Two of my boys didn’t do the 11+ so they are in a local school, the youngest could do the 11+ but I don’t think he would pass as they are all tutored in the UK to pass it, which we haven’t done. So we feel like an outsider as my boys don’t go to a grammar school which seems to be the only thing that parents are interested in here in the UK. The problem I have now is that we are planning to return to sydney so do I allow my 14 year old to do his GCSE’s then return. This means he will be returning midway through year 10, after they have picked their HSCs. The other two boys will be fine and should be able to slip into the Australian schools again hopefully ahead in English and Maths. I don’t want to muck up their education. My boys miss the Australian schools because of the sport, the facilities which are much better. The UK put a lot of pressure on the kids to perform and conform. Other things my boys have noticed in the UK is the kids can be really horrible. They have been spat on, the swearing is terrible, my son has been called an Australian C…, The bigger kids just push the little ones out of their way when walking. My son has come back upset about this. There is just no respect. I will note they have met some lovely boys but experience bullying frequently which I complain about. Please tell me things doesn’t happen in high school in Australia as my oldest was in year six when we left and had to jump a year and half ahead in the UK. May I add that we live in a very expensive area were a lot of London Stock Brokers live so you think the quality of people would be better. Anyway overall, UK is ahead of education for sure especially in maths however, there is no room in schools, the facilities are not as good and the kids behaviour is terrible compared to Sydney. We can’t wait to return to Australia however, we will miss the countryside and endless walking tracks.

    • BobinOz May 27, 2016, 6:13 pm | Link

      Well, that Australia is behind in maths is how the above tables see it as well, certainly for years four and eight. Interestingly a reader elsewhere on this website who moved over from the UK to Australia with his wife, who is a teacher, tells me that he feels that Australia is behind in junior school education, but ahead in senior school education.

      Given the ages of your children, then I think you have every prospect of getting a better education by bringing them back here. As for the bullying, I can’t guarantee it doesn’t happen at all here in Australia, but it certainly sounds quite rampant where you are in the UK.

      Hopefully your kids will be much happier when they return here and go back to school. Thanks for taking the time to comment and giving us your views, Bob

    • jumpingkangaroos May 27, 2016, 6:54 pm | Link

      Why don’t you get them to try the NAPLAN tests in Australia, which will provide some sort of gauge?

      I’m an Australian living in London and my little boy is 7 and in year 2. I often wonder whether or not I should head home, but so far have not been able to decide!

      Earlier this year, I downloaded the NAPLAN test for both English and Writing for year 3 Australia, which my son would sit in May next year (2017). He got 97% in the Maths, which he breezed through time wise and English was a lot better than the examples that they had provided online. I’m not sure how closely aligned those examples are to the real thing though.

      In terms of bullying, my son has not experienced any (knock on wood) and the boys at his school are generally lovely.

      It would be great if you could update when you do head back!

  • Backnow May 8, 2016, 11:42 pm | Link

    Hi. Bit off the discussion path but, on the topic of Australian v UK schooling, my son completed half of year 5 in Australia and then arrived in UK in June only to be met with the 11 plus in September. He had no schooling from June to September, had only completed half of year 5, when all of the UK kids had completed the year and had tutors, and he passed!
    Good point for the Aussie system there.

    • BobinOz May 10, 2016, 12:35 am | Link

      If I have my grading numbers correct and the timing you mention, your son was at least a year behind when he took the 11+. So that he passed it, well yes, that is a good point for the Aussie system, it’s also a very good result for your son.

      I know it’s not an easy test to pass, I took it myself in 1969 🙂 Do they really still call it the 11+?

  • Andy pandy March 14, 2016, 1:40 am | Link

    The most important consideration is this . Where will your child end up making there career? If Australia then educate them in Australia. If the UK etc… . It is irrelevant how good each country is. Your child will have the best chance if they work in the country they were educated in. Its a no brainer really. Please read on if you want to read about anyones subjective nationalistic opinions.

    • BobinOz March 14, 2016, 5:45 pm | Link

      Well, I strongly disagree with your theory Andy, but I can see there would be no point in me debating this with you. You are clearly somebody who believes that only your opinion matters.

    • Jay Lin May 8, 2016, 1:54 pm | Link

      Andy has a good point for someone who simply wants to get a job for living. But for those who want to be doing work internationally or doing prestigious work in one’s home country, one will have an advantage of getting education in one’s home country and in another country. It is about what you know about your own country as well as what you know about the rest of the world, from a new perspective.

      • BobinOz May 8, 2016, 10:12 pm | Link

        Precisely. It’s why I disagreed with Andy, because getting an education isn’t simply about being able to land a job to make a living. I also disagreed with him because he was totally dismissive of other people’s opinions. The Andy Pandy I knew and loved always listened to others; well, mainly Looby Loo.


  • TM March 13, 2016, 2:35 pm | Link

    I found that being a student is the best reminder of what being a student is like (who knew, right!) – and gives the freshest and best insight into the difficulties of learning in any system.

    Some institutions are better than others – absolutely. But they are so, primarily by their standards of selection and improvement of teachers. (And you can’t change kids, can you? Best focus on the best school then! – and these are the places with the best teachers!)
    Given my recent experiences, and consultation with a teacher I greatly respect – a teacher of many, many years experience – I was informed of the culmination 50 years of experience in the trade: the teacher is of the utmost importance. The lectures / teachers will influence everything from how the course is delivered to what the student will end up thinking of not only the course but quite likely the discipline itself. Of course, performance is a massive part of this. But think about it for a moment: a good teacher can make up for (seemingly) endless horrors of a bad system. What’s a bad teacher going to do?

    Grappling with the apparent levels of performance of children between countries in is quite an undertaking, even for the experts. However, if you’re looking at something you could more reasonably measure and control, wherever you end up (here or overseas) any influence you can have in ensuring your child has a good teacher (or teachers) is of the most relevance to them having good teaching. It’s almost too simple when you think about it, isn’t it? But after revisiting more than the odd educational facility myself recently, that, for the most part, is where the difference is. And it certainly fits my experience – the courses I thought best in the universities / colleges I thought were best all had one thing in common: they had the best teachers / lecturers.

    • BobinOz March 14, 2016, 5:26 pm | Link

      That is a very good point TM, the ability of the teacher is a major influencing factor in the quality of the students education and as you say, probably the most influencing factor of all.

  • Henry August 9, 2015, 3:40 pm | Link

    So boring … I worked in Australia for a couple of years in a professional job as an environmental consultant and a professor there told me that higher education (graduate school, not A levels whatever they are …) suffers greatly because Aus colleges do not offer specialized classes because the may be less than 40 (!) People in the class. I recall my Physical Chemistry class (a requirement for a chemistry major in US) and there were 12 people. And 5 in the lab (5 credits vs 3 for levcure). The school was Johns Hopkins, equivalent to Oxford, Cambridge or Kings College.
    so, publicly funded education is subject to budget pressures and efforts to cut taxes….
    And UK or Aus education suffer from being offered in a climate of less freedom. The US leads due to freedom – Granted, it also allows the shotings, etc but is a boon to education, and keeps US in the leadership role. With the UK and Australia looking, not viceversa

    • BobinOz August 9, 2015, 8:34 pm | Link

      Let us not trouble ourselves with the incredible amount of work that both TIMSS, who say the USA is somewhere below England and above Australia, or PISA who say the USA are a long way behind both of them.

      Let us all, instead, take great note of an unknown and unnamed professor who you bumped into at some stage once your life whilst doing some consultancy work here in Australia. He thinks the USA are the best, so that’s that then.

      Thanks for that Henry.

      And while we’re at it, let’s add a bit of God bless America and all the freedom it gives to its people. The freedom for everyone to carry guns, which are easily obtainable. The freedom to go into any school, anywhere, and shoot up a few teachers and kids. Heck, don’t limit yourself to schools, you can do the same thing at a cinema.

      Yes, the US really does lead when it comes to freedom.

      So funny …

      • Ryan April 18, 2016, 8:45 pm | Link

        Seconded. Well put, Bob.

        A US Maths Teacher trying to work out how to get to Oz

        • BobinOz April 19, 2016, 5:03 pm | Link

          Thank you Ryan, and I do hope you find a way to get here.

  • Morris June 29, 2015, 3:35 am | Link

    I am planning to move from South Africa to Australia or New Zealand. Ten years ago I moved from Zimbabwe to South Africa that was not so much of a challenge. My 12 year old son is going to school and will need a school. I am wondering about issues of race in Oz both for him in school and for the whole family in communities as well as for me at work places.

    • BobinOz June 29, 2015, 8:35 pm | Link

      We have a multicultural society here Morris, and we also have many many South Africans living here. I don’t believe you will have any problems at all. You may want to read my page about racism in Australia…

      • Jake November 3, 2015, 7:10 pm | Link

        I studied in Australia, in Sydney to be specific. Contrary to your reply to Morris. Multicultural society doesn’t mean that a society is not racist. I can tell that people are racist here from what I observed and experience as every race is getting discriminated. Indians are called taxi drivers/bobble head, Lebanese – wogs, other Asians mail to order or your own people Aboriginals are greatly discriminated in Australia. Also in addition what you’ve said to Henry they are all true. However doesn’t Australia have a high crime rate which include Domestic violence, theft and murder wherein gun is a part of it? Even though guns are not allowed in Australia.

        • BobinOz November 4, 2015, 4:19 pm | Link

          Like any country we do have a small minority of racists. The vast majority are not racist at all. The reason I mentioned our multicultural society was to underline the fact that our streets are filled with people from different cultures and countries; if this country was really so racist then day-to-day life would be intolerable.

          People would just not get on at all, they would always be at each other, constantly, but that does not happen even though different races live side-by-side on a daily basis.

          Just as every country has racists, every country also has crime, and gun crime to a greater or lesser degree. In Australia it is most certainly to a lesser degree.

          • Phil May 21, 2016, 8:45 am | Link

            Statistically, 43% of Australian’s have at least 1 parent born overseas, when you have this high a level concentration immigration, you’re bound to have some racist opposition.
            From my experience, I’ve found a lot of foreigners(or at least of foreign decent) are racist against each other. When i visited Korea i found they’ve a dire hatred of the Japanese whom invaded them in the 40’s.
            I’ve also found Asians and Indians seem to clash, perhaps due to culture, or maybe due to difficulties understanding each others accents and therefore it’s a frustrated response.
            Generally, most Asian people will tan very easily, all the farmers and outdoor workers have a darker complexion than white collar workers, and therefore the darker skin represents a lower class of people.
            In places like Korea for example, social hierarchy is a huge divider, while they no longer have ‘pheasants and nobles’, the culture is very much materialistic, where you are treated based on the brand of the handbag or designer clothes you wear. Judgement is usually passed on class, but then class is assumed by skin colour. This is an example of some of the cultures and foreign viewpoints that are brought over with the immigrants themselves.

            While I’ve seen and heard plenty of blatant racism from White people, what strikes me as strange, is minorities being racist toward others, yet resenting the same treatment upon themselves.

            As for crime – just look it up.. Australia is safer than any country you’ve ever been to.

            • BobinOz May 23, 2016, 6:15 pm | Link

              Just to add to that, I think most Indians who have moved here will tell you that India has so many more prejudices and is far more racist than Australia is.

  • Phil March 16, 2015, 10:46 pm | Link

    Check out Chatswood Elementary, we thought it was excellent.

  • Justin Flanagan March 16, 2015, 7:45 pm | Link

    I have read this post most avidly as it is so relevant to our current situation.
    I am hoping I will be offered a role in Sydney in the next day or two. The issue regarding what to do with my 13 year old Daughter who starts GCSEs here in the uk this September is causing me many sleepless nights.

    The plan was to come out to Sydney and give it at least 2 years. If all worked out we would stay on, else we would come home.

    Looking at the North Shore area of Sydney. I hear there are some good all girls schools there. The exact name of the suburb ‘ … Heights’ eludes me.

    Any ideas on the best way forward?

    • BobinOz March 17, 2015, 4:43 pm | Link

      Balgowlah Heights, Allambie Heights or Killarney Heights? You can also check out schools on my page called Which school? and Phil has a suggestion below. Good luck, Bob

  • Lachlan December 20, 2014, 9:50 am | Link

    As an australian, who hasn’t studied anywhere else, I do believe the results achieved, and in a way the quality of the system, are based on a few factors;
    1) The effort of the student obviously, if someone doesn’t try they aren’t going to go well are they?
    2) The quality of teacher training. If a teacher hasn’t been ‘properly’ trained then, yes students will suffer.
    3) The effort/quality of teachers, obviously teachers need to make an effort to try and teach students, who will suffer if a teacher doesn’t actually teach. In fact there is an infamous joke in my school about a Maths teacher who doesn’t ‘teach’, instead, he shows students how to do a particular equation or such once and expects them to have it memorized. So, the students can’t do well, fail or come very close and are put back into his class again because pf the infinite cycle. (I should probably explain that classes at my school are sorted by grades)

    I do have complaints though, (as someone was saying before you want to be at the top of your class to get a good OP in QLD, where I am.) and that will be much harder with a system like this for the stronger student, but in turn is much fairer for those who aren’t as strong who will not have such heavy competition.

    Oh and about Maths I will say this, How many people use the complicated mathematics that they are taught in school outside of school? However, in QLD especially, they are STARTING to make maths slightly more relevant. There is one maths that those interested in trade qualifications can choose which gives them the math for the trade and teaches them about taxes and BASIC accounting thingy-majigs. Why they don’t do this for those who are more academically based, I don’t know.
    Anyways that’s my two cents worth.

    • BobinOz December 22, 2014, 6:07 pm | Link

      You’ve made some good points there Lachlan. I don’t think I have any doubt that the major factor is the effort put in by the student, glad to see you’ve put that top of your list as well. Of course, the teachers have to be up to the task as well, as you have rightly pointed out.

      Making the subjects relevant is important as well and it’s good to hear about this maths initiative for tradies. Thanks again for your two cents, Bob

  • Phil June 9, 2014, 11:41 pm | Link

    Our daughter was in 6th grade in Australia in Sydney, from America, an we were very pleased at how caring the teachers were for the children. Too often in the U.S. the educational system is just one big massive bureaucracy where the kids are processed like so many numbers. Down Under, they took a real interest in her. I also get the impression that the Australian system tends to be better balance, instilling an appreciation of the outdoors, etc. No system is perfect.

    • BobinOz June 10, 2014, 1:08 am | Link

      No system is perfect, I suspect, but what I like and have always liked about the school my daughter goes to here is that she always goes in smiling and comes out smiling.

      That’s great, and it’s even better that she is getting a pretty good education in between times.

      Cheers, Bob

  • anne June 7, 2014, 12:04 pm | Link

    I have previously posted and said I would give my verdict after my 9 year old had spent a year in Aussie school.
    I need to preface this by saying theat his school in UK was a wonderful school with great results, nice teachers and community feel. It was an outstanding school in ofsted reports and a popular feeder school to grammar schools – i.e academic led.

    So after a year:

    Maths is definitely behind in Australia. (My son did naplan 3 days after he landed in Oz from UK and blitzed it).
    English/Literacy WAY more advanced here in Australia . When we arrived, he was in year 3, we were shocked to find kids doing essays and persuasive text. Mine hadnt even got to essay stage yet in UK. The kids were also very practiced in oral presentation skills – there seems to be a large emphasis placed on this and it aids confidence and speaking skills enormously.The Aussie teacher was a bit shocked that the first presentation my son did had been his first ever.
    More friendly classroom environment. Hand down.
    Resources here are great – lets just put it this way – HUGE library, tennis court, each kid has a mac book air computer. er, win.
    More well rounded education so far – here my son does art, music, IT, geography, science and languages. They didnt have that in his UK school. Not as deliniated lessons anyway and NO art at all there. They have done debating, chess, coding
    Sport – kids have 2 sport days a week and do swimming in school as well as proper sports.They also have a swimming carnival and a proper athletics carnival each year plus gala sports day and cross country. This is a funny one for us to like as my son ISNT sporty at all lol (he is a maths/sciencey type kid).
    No pressure of 11 plus.
    A winner for my son hands down – wearing shorts to school and NO tie 😉

    Overall we are very happy. I freaked at first as the maths is a little backward but realised all those other factors are going to be better, in the long term, for my son.
    To be honest, my husband and I have moments where we want to go back to UK but it is ALWAYS the schooling and environment for our son that keeps us here.
    (Husband British and I am australian).

    I should add…I am “swapsies” above

    • BobinOz June 10, 2014, 12:30 am | Link

      Hi Anne/swapsies

      Good to hear from you again,thanks for coming back to give us an update. You’ve made some interesting points and I’m not sure if you’ve read Becky Swinn’s comments a little further up, but you both seem to have drawn some similar conclusions.

      In particular that English/grammar seems to be well ahead here in Australia when compared to the UK, and also that the learning environment is much better here. It’s interesting you mention presentation skills, my daughter, aged 10, gave her first presentation at assembly a week ago in front of the whole school. She was only asked to do this on the day, so she only had about 20 minutes to prepare.

      It wasn’t a long speech by any means, but it was still in front of the whole school at age 10. She has though already given many presentations in front of her class, so she wasn’t fazed by it, more like well-prepared.

      Becky also spoke about spelling, I could only remember a few words that my daughter had in her test at the time, but I now have her homework book in front of me.

      In her most recent test in which she actually scored 30 out of 30. Here are a few of the words she’s been learning over the past three weeks; mysterious, emergencies, immovable, symmetrical, perimeter, received, oblique, alphabet, aisle, medallion, miscellaneous, amazement, kilojoule, dialogue, handkerchief….

      Oh, I could go on, I’ve got her whole book 🙂

      Maths, on the other hand, does seem reasonably straightforward; tables and reasonably simple division, like 144÷12, 108÷9, 52×90, 643×40. On the other hand, a lot of maths is about stories, so the maths is a story that you have to understand before you can work out the answer. I know we all had this when we were at school, there are five apples in the bag, David has one, Sarah has another and they dropped two on the floor that were gobbled up by spot the dog. How many apples left?

      Except these stories are harder, it actually takes more to work out what’s going on than to actually do the maths to solve it. They use this a lot with algebra.

      I think it makes learning fun.

      This debate over which country has the better education system will probably go on and on, but my daughter has been in Australian education now for around 6 1/2 years, I’m still very happy with it. Sounds like you are as well, which is great, especially as you are a University lecturer as mentioned in your previous comment.

      Thanks again


      • Barbosa July 25, 2014, 9:10 am | Link

        Hi Bob,

        Reading many articles about cost of schooling, like your, I’ve started to consider e.g. UK or Sweden as better countries to continue my carrier and afford education for my children (we live in a Latin American country, spending much of what I earn with better education).

        BTW, with the noteworry examples of the schools visited by your daughter and Anne’s daughter (Anne, please post a comment if you find this out), I have to ask you: are they: A-mid quality schools; B-mid quality Catholic school; C-above average private schools ?

        Thak you all for the clarifying examples.
        All my best.

        • BobinOz July 25, 2014, 10:19 pm | Link

          The school my daughter goes to is a state school, I haven’t checked the rankings, but it’s probably slightly above-average in terms of quality.

          Cheers, Bob

      • Lisa November 26, 2015, 1:56 pm | Link

        Hi Bob I have stumbled across your website while trying to compare education and schools between Australia and the US.
        I’m a Kiwi who lived in the US for 10 years and had my daughter there. Due to relationship breakdown with her father I chose to come to Perth WA where my father lived. (he has since moved to NZ)
        We cam her 5 years ago when my daughter was 2.
        She has been through kindy and pre-primary and now 3 weeks away from completion of year 1
        Of late Daddy wants us to return to USA because he can offer us financial support which I as a single parent am struggling with however; we lucked out with a great primary school tucked away in a safe residential area and academically it is ranked as one of the best achieving independent public schools in WA with approx. 450 students.
        I don’t have all the facts and statistics I do know we are the least funded and are approx.$250,000 behind in funding compared to all other primary schools here hence our P & C spend countless hours and energy with fund-raising and it never ceases to amaze me the commitment and results they get.
        Apart from all the statistics I do see my daughter go to school happy and return happy and achieve great results academically. I have been blown away with what she has been learning from as early as kindy. especially in literacy/reading.
        She is 7 today actually and well above the average academically…..ok maths is not my strongest literacy is so I have been capable to support that area but if anything she comes home and teaches me stuff ha ha
        she was reading in kindy and tested on magic words through reading now it is orally and written she has a weekly test on oral/written magic words and weekly reading tests with the Fitzgerald book series and another spelling test written of 10 words where the class is in 3 groups of ability she is in the most challenging group and the words they study are massive!! eg miscellaneous, glockenspiel, manufacture, innocence, explicit, excitable and so many more that sometimes I have to look up the meaning like catacomb I did not know what that was ha ha
        I am a swimmimg teacher for the Department of Education teaching the school swimming and I know many parents whose children attend different schools and even they say wow their kids aren’t even at that level. It really is a school devoted to achieving and the principle recognised it was falling short in 2007 so went to NSW and learned what the schools were doing there and brought back a curriculum that he aspired to and all teachers teach this method and since 2008 the results have proved fantastic.
        It is such a supportive happy and multi-cultural school a very fit school they have maintained the interschool athletics carnival shield for 11 years straight are known as the “swimming school” and best behaved school….as I said we lucked out by just being in the right zone.
        I have no point to make just I have been struggling with the decision of wether to return to CT USA for financial security and reunite our family or stay here where my daughter’s foundation schooling years have great potential. (high schools are a bit of a concern for me as I see many parents choosing private schools due to not a suitable public high school) seems to far away for me yet.
        I asked my daughter if she wants to go to USA and she said she doesn’t want to leave her school……
        She is such a healthy sporty outdoor girl….yes I have to force the homework and reading she avoids reading she finds it boring would rather dig in the dirt or play acting as an animal etc she doesn’t have an ipad (they use them at school) we have no electronic games of any sort (can’t afford it) and even though she doesn’t practice her reading etc all of her early and current education allows her to read really well and pass her weekly reading tests.
        Also the kids have been addressing assembly’s with talks and presentations since pre primary and her confidence and social behaviour is very mature.
        The discipline system they have in place is reflective not punitive known as the traffic light system…..I actually tend to find it a bit over the top at times and can be ridiculing however my darling does push the boundaries and is not and never will be “in the box”
        There are some super smart children in her class and throughout the school as well as some who are well behind due to English as a second language etc and the teachers are great at extending those who can handle more and providing intervention for those who require help.
        One of my favourite things is we can park and walk our kidsto class and hang out in class til school begins, and they have the principle and deuty supervising the kids 30 minutes prior to school while they run around the field with balls and play and activites etc after school the kids are allowed to hang out on the field and playground as all us parents chill and chat and wander away about an hour later. we have struck a one in a million treasure of a school and I believe we would not find anything like it in the US.
        I could ramble on and on about so much more about Dianella Heights Primary School but this is reaching the capacity of a book.
        I am glad I discovered your site and it must have been a message to reassure me to stay put.
        I must add with all the extremism and gun issues in USA I am reluctant to consider a move. Would I allow my daughter to have a playdate at an American’s house? with the possibility that the parents have a gun somewhere accessible where curious children get a hold of it? Hell no it happens!
        Yes we have our problems with domestic violence drugs and the works and yes we are following American trends but we still have a wonderful lifestyle and love the outdoors and the public parks and beaches and community activities are outstanding.
        I do find everyone’s comments here eye opening, interesting and entertaining.
        Thanks for your input Bob.
        Kind regards

      • Lisa November 26, 2015, 2:18 pm | Link

        Hi again Bob
        just to add……As much as I think education and achieving well is important, I do believe a balance of healthy lifestyle to be so important. It does start at home and the best thing we can do for our kids is nurture them and their interests, teach them right from wrong by explain why not just yelling at them not to or to, be good role models without expecting perfection, teach them it is ok to make mistakes and how to try again, show them what love is through daily acts of kindness through to discipline including our own discipline, encourage sport and activity and health eating choices yet again a balance…..I have fumbled my way through parenting single-handedly and I dropped out of school at 15 and have made the mistake of expecting too much of my daughter making my choices out of fear that she might end up like me struggling which has resulted in many confrontations, yelling and misery all of which I have recognised and now am in a healthier place and it is on-going. It really does begin with the parents. My child is intelligent but not in the academic sense in itself but all-round. Some of her classmates are so far ahead academically yet their social behaviour is everything from introverted to immature and sometimes boastful etc
        learning to be “good sport” in all aspects of life is crucial.
        And at the end of the day it is fantastic if we can let our kids be kids…..some successful people out there never had an education at school but their worldly experiences and mentors they came across helped them develop into beautiful and happy people. What is success at the end of the day? A good education? a good job?
        Thanks again

      • Lisa November 26, 2015, 2:27 pm | Link

        Hi Bob
        I wrote a huge reply to you about my daughter’s school and our dilemma about returning to the US I thought submitted it correctly but it hasn’t appeared so it must have got lost…never mind, there is a brief extra comment further on. well a great site and I cannot rewrite my original it was far too lengthy. will keep checking your insightful site for more good reads.

        • BobinOz December 1, 2015, 7:57 pm | Link

          Hi Lisa

          Well, as you can see, I rescued that very long comment of yours and you can see it, it’s the first one of your three here. Sorry about that, it got held up in my system.

          Anyway, the story of your daughters education mirrors that of my own daughter Elizabeth so very closely. She started kindy here in Australia when we first moved over from the UK, she would have been three years old at the time.

          She is now 11 years old and finishes junior school in a couple of weeks time and start seniors at the beginning of next year. Like yourself, I’ve been hugely impressed with the education she has been given, and I too have been in awe of the sometimes ridiculously long words included in their spelling tests 🙂

          She, like your daughter, is extremely sporty and swims for the school, plays netball for the local team and goes to gymnastics regularly. Above all though, like your daughter, she goes to school with a smile on the face and comes out at the end of the day still smiling and that in itself is priceless.

          Education really does often start at home though and as you say the support of us parents and our encouragement is critical. You have had to do on your own as a single parent, but it sounds like you’ve done an absolutely marvellous job to me.

          As for the US, obviously my situation is different from yours, but you couldn’t drag me over there with wild horses. Whatever you decide though, good luck to both you and your daughter, but I’m sure you will both make a success of it wherever you go.

          Thanks for taking the time to comment, Bob

  • Matt June 6, 2014, 11:33 pm | Link

    Schools in England are way better. I went to a top school in England and I am doing maths I did like 3 years ago in England. Here in Australia they are so ignorant and tucked up in their own little world. No school in Australia comes anywhere near the top English schools. That’s a fact. I have experienced both.

    • BobinOz June 9, 2014, 11:26 pm | Link

      It’s not a fact Matt, it’s simply your opinion which isn’t shared by many other people. It’s also really quite insulting to describe all of Australia as ignorant and tucked up in their own little world. You may be good at maths, but you have a long way to go when it comes to communication skills.

    • Boo July 24, 2014, 2:42 am | Link

      Apparently, manners and humility aren’t big on the curriculum in England.

      Also, did the fabulous education system in England not teach you the definition of “generalisation”?

  • Becky Swinn April 2, 2014, 8:54 pm | Link

    My situation is slightly backwards, but it’s first hand, and I definitely have an opinion about which education system is better. I moved from Aus to the UK in August 2002, at the age of 10 (I’m now 22). Because the school year in Aus starts in Feb but in the UK it starts in September, I had the option of effectively moving up or down half a year. So I took the entry test and was able to go up half a year, into year 7 at a boarding school in the UK. After a year there, I changed schools and spent year 8 at a primary boarding school which went up to year 8 (Key Stage 3). After that, I went onto the senior school. So effectively, I went from a primary to senior school, then back to a primary, and then to another senior school! I found stark differences between the education systems. For some subjects, I was really thrown in the deep end; in Australia we had never studied Science, History, or Geography in the formal sense, so I was failing dismally in those exams. I was always that kid who had to stay back at the end of lessons to redo work, and who would stay behind at the end of ‘prep’ (homework) in the evenings to complete work. I entered year 8 and was faced with KS3 exams and really, really had to push myself. Thankfully the hard work paid off, but I did, and still do, resent the UK system of assessment. It is all about passing exams! We are supposed to make children WANT to learn. Instead, there is this constant pressure of exam results looming over our heads, and the teachers make them seem like the most important thing in the world. It’s ridiculous. Having such a set curriculum means that teachers have so much less autonomy over what they do. It doesn’t foster a love for education! So although, at the time, my peers may have understood more about science, British History and geography, I found the Australian system much better. The way they incorporated those topics within other lessons, I found everything fascinating! We often had weekly spelling tests, and occasional maths tests, but that normalised assessment, and didn’t make it something to be scared of. Even as primary students, we were able to take an approach to our work where we were constantly trying our best, rather than cramming as much knowledge in as possible before a GCSE exam. Ideally, I’d like to scrap most of the levels of exams in the UK; KS1 and KS3 at the very least.

    One of the biggest differences I noticed between the education systems was the level of spelling and grammar. At the age of 9 in Australia we were learning how to spell words like ‘tuberculosis’. In the UK, they were teaching 12-13 year olds words like ‘people’ and ‘issue’. I couldn’t believe the difference. And people were exceptionally poor at grammar. I think that the good understanding of grammar that a primary education in Australia gave me helped a lot in studying modern languages at senior school. Although, again, I was behind in languages (we only had a couple of lessons in Australia), I found myself able to grasp the language quickly, because my understanding of grammar was there. By the middle of year 9, I was at the top of the year.

    One last thing; a study by Rasbash et al found that 80% of the difference between children’s academic achievements is dependent on what happens outside the school. As you can see, a parent’s involvement is crucial. I know that in Australia, generally salaries are higher and people get to enjoy a better work-life balance. I don’t know the facts, but this probably means parents in Australia have more time to spend with their children, helping them with homework and reading, etc. Therefore, children will perform better! Also, because the weather was great (we lived in Melbourne) 90% of our time was spent outdoors. More air, more excercise, healthier lifestyle = better concentration and better performance at school.

    In summary, I can’t vouch Australia in terms of senior school education, but the Australian education system at primary level trumps that of the UK.

    • BobinOz April 4, 2014, 9:24 pm | Link

      You have made some wonderful observations here Becky, I really appreciate you taking the time to detail it all for us. I think the most important point you have made is that, somehow, education must be enjoyable. If kids are always concerned about the pressure of the next exam, that isn’t going to happen.

      I have noticed too that some subjects aren’t specifically studied here, but they are ‘built in” to the curriculum. Back in the day when I was at school, for example, history and geography were subjects I dreaded. “Today we are going to learn about the Battle of Hastings, open your textbooks to page 443” … yawn yawn.

      Here they will do something like a project on culturalism and they will talk about the aboriginal people, for example; on one occasion they even had some aboriginals come down and give a talk, show some art, perform music, explain dreamtime, that sort of thing and the kids loved it.

      But it was history!

      Spelling, yes, I notice that as well. Just the other day I was looking through my 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth’s homework and she had a spelling test with 30 words. I was quite shocked at what she was learning to spell.

      I couldn’t remember any offhand right now, and Elizabeth’s homework book is still at school and will be for the whole Easter break. I asked her if she could remember any words and it saddens me to say that the first word she remembered was “shopping”.

      Oh boy am I in trouble 🙂

      But that was one of the easy words, she thought harder and could remember the test also included definitely (one of the most misspelt words I see), monstrous, immediately, astonishment, honourable and confident.

      She got 25/30, by the way.

      On tests though, the one thing I have noticed is that here in Australia they do put a lot of emphasis on the Naplan stuff, but then I suspect that’s the same in all countries that take part in that table.

      Again, thanks for your input, I really appreciate it.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Dom January 3, 2014, 12:40 am | Link

    Having grown up in England and moved to Australia at 15, i quickly noticed the change in Education. I am now a maths teacher at a school in Brisbane and the standards of education were far superior in England. At 14, i remember doing quadratics, linear equations, the sort of stuff i am now teaching to my top set year 12 maths class and many seem to struggle. Both GCSE’s and A- levels are worth far more than the ordinary Australian certificate of education.

    • BobinOz January 5, 2014, 9:42 pm | Link

      Well I went to a quite highly thought of grammar school in the UK back in the day, I couldn’t even tell you what quadratics are.

      Maybe I was staring out of the window that day 🙂

    • Ruby July 25, 2016, 9:32 pm | Link

      Having studied high school in Queensland, I have to say I absolutely remember studying quadratics by Year 10 (aged 15), and linears certainly in Year 8 (aged 13). I went to a quite academic state school, but we certainly followed the state curriculum! Of course all schools are different, but perhaps your testimony is not representative of the larger field.

      I can’t speak for England, but I know that at my school at least there was a lot of emphasis on employability and life skills- writing resumes and such. The most important thing was working hard and seeking improvement- not getting good grades. I wonder how that compares to other schools?

  • charissyn June 3, 2013, 10:50 am | Link

    Hi jezz,

    I’m not sure if your son’s reading and math is due to his nursery or rather the nurturing environment that he has at home as well as nursery.
    I know of many home educated children levels ahead before 6/7 years of age and doing simple math regardless of UK, Australia, or Asia or America. If children enjoy stories with nurturing and loving caregivers from very young, they do pick up the enthusiasm.

    I’m not sure if I like the bully culture that’s so prevalent in schools
    and can be destructive in puberty and teen years..
    and scary when I hear younger children circulating censored material in school and in a conformist culture.
    Imho, though easier said than done, The best education would be to nurture and shepherd the heart alongside academics lest we have unscrupulous qualified professionals or scientists, etc..
    (this isnt just about having moral education with dos and donts that don’t deal with root issues of being loved and accepted for who children are by those that matter most)

    • BobinOz June 4, 2013, 12:50 am | Link

      Good point as well charissyn, just by giving your child some of your time and encouraging them to be hungry for knowledge can give them a huge step upwards and put your child ahead of the game.

  • jezz June 3, 2013, 10:25 am | Link

    Hi Bob!

    I have been in two minds about returning to OZ with my school aged son, conflicted by whether or not Australia’s education system is up to scratch.

    Having completed my entire education from primary through to postgrade in Australia, I found it to be mediocre – although it was about 10 years ago. I now work in London, on a six figure salary and find my European and UK counterparts to be more educated and knowledgeable – although we have equal qualifications.

    Recently, my work fired an Aussie temp because her spelling was atrocious. My son who is now in nursery, part of an independent school in London can already read level 2 books, and do simple addition and subtraction, types of work, which I actually can recall doing at grade 2 and 3 level in Australia.

    I know you have been comparing state education, but I wonder what people think of the private education system in Australia?

    The most I got out of having an education in Australia (local catholic schools, and then Melbourne and Monash Uni), was to be self reliant and to work hard. I guess a good work ethic, which sometimes I wonder whether the UK system/culture can give. Also, my son’s manners and behaviour are second to none, and I compare that with the kids my mum teaches as a kindergarten teacher in Melbourne.


    My mum has been trying to argue that Australia’s education system has improved vastly since I left, and if I were to send my son to a private school in Melbourne, he would have the same opportunities that he would have studying in the UK.

    • BobinOz June 4, 2013, 12:48 am | Link

      I’m inclined to think that there are good schools and bad schools in both the state and the private systems here in Australia as well as in the UK. You can’t beat a bit of local knowledge and word-of-mouth to find out which is which.

      I also believe that the education “gap”, even if there is one between Australia and the UK, isn’t big enough to influence a decision on where you choose to live. I think it’s more important to live in the country you want to live in and then make the best you can of the education system by doing thorough research.

      My page called Which school? might help you with that and I hope whatever you decide to do in the end, it works out for the best.

  • Triana June 3, 2013, 2:45 am | Link

    I am an Australian living in London preparing for my escape with my six year old daughter back to Australia. I find much of what I am reading really alarming. When I was at school in Australia I remember the teachers putting up with a lot of back chat where in the Private system in London that does not happen (so not much has changed in my progressive Australia that allows people to be individuals). However, in the UK there is a massive Bully culture largely because in essence one must always appear not to be making a fuss so the bullys know nothing is gunna happen to them. The UK is a confirmist society so us Aussies are boat rockers.

    I find the system here very backward (Victorian) where as in Australia we are progressive but to be progressive one must challenge things – so I guess this includes educators – I feel that boat rocking.

    As far as the happy, shiney, loving people in the UK, well they are not in central London at private schools or their neighbourhoods. If I want to be with a friendly person in London I jump in a cab or go to a bus stop near a council estate. Yep, that is what I am saying the class system dictates whether someone is friendly or not here. I find the people mean spirited, selfish and egosentric with little regard, to the enronment nor the world we live in. Oh have you ever had a English person compliment you? Well, I never have oh maybe in a cab. Which by the way is the best thing about London – Black Cabs – oh on that debate no debate London Cabs beat Sydney cabs hands down.

    Australia, yeap I remember people to be a bit harsh and at times cold and not at all good at keeping their opinon to themselves and all of those things are annoying too.

    So where is better? I’m going for where the sun shines atleast it is difficult to be miserable when the sun is shining and when you are not miserable then it is more difficult to pass each other by like ghosts. London is a city of ghosts, you can’t see anyone – well you do but they don’t see you. Sydney is full of busy bodies oh well better to have a purpose and be happy I say.

    Oh excuse my mistakes I went through school in Australia with undiagnosed Dyslexia and for all those about to tell me how much better the UK is for that – just let me stop you there. My daughters £15,000 a year school refuse to acknowledge my daughters diifculties, they margonalise her because they refuse to do anything different for one child! Yep that is the UK for you. CONFORM! Complete disregard to ones emotional well being. I guess that is why I prefer to be around rock the boat pain in the ass Aussie’s – myself included.

    So as long as your child is Joe average in the UK all will be fine (as long as they are not being bullied as no one will acknowledge it).

    Interesting debate. I say for those that like the UK stay in the UK and for those that like Australia be in Aust everything is not that important. Clearly, worlds apart.

    • BobinOz June 4, 2013, 12:19 am | Link

      I’ll put you down as a vote for Australia then Triana, hope your escape goes well and we see you back in this country soon.

  • Mike May 28, 2013, 8:20 am | Link

    An interesting article, but I’m not sure I’d agree with the conclusions.

    Our experience of education in Sydney has been very negative compared with the UK.

    We arrived in south Sydney in September 2012. We discounted public schools early on, due to the $4500 per child 457 visa surcharge, and so looked at the Catholic school system. Our children had attended Catholic school in the UK and ,comparatively , the fees are cheaper than the public system.

    We eventually settled on one that appeared to be well above average according to our research on

    Our initial impressions were good, a modern school with plenty of modern equipment, unfortunately over the past few months we have realised that it all is not what it seemed.

    Teachers who cannot spell or control their classrooms, days spent playing games and watching feature films on the expensive technology, a privatised canteen that “forgets” to give Kindy kids their change, playground bullying, chaotic use of IT which allows unsupervised internet access on School and Bring Your Own Devices leading to inappropriate images being downloaded in a primary school. The list goes on.

    All of this watched over by a management team for whom all of this is “not their problem”.

    Its all style over substance.

    While I’m sure there are good schools out there, I know we are not alone with our concerns, every family we have spoken to who has come out to Australia from Europe in the last 12 or so months is experiencing similar issues at a schools across Sydney. I know many are revaluating their move out here.

    One point to keep in mind, Teachers are hired in NSW on the basis of how long they have been on the waiting list, not on the basis of suitability or quality. Draw your own conclusions from that.

    It is so disappointing.

    • BobinOz May 28, 2013, 8:33 pm | Link

      Thanks for letting us know what it’s been like for you over in Sydney, not the experience that we’ve had here in Brisbane I can assure you. We’ve now been here 5 1/2 years, my daughter has been through Kindy and is now a year 4 student and we have been very happy with the quality of education.

      Even better, Elizabeth loves going to school still, goes in with a smile and comes out with one as well. I suppose every school and area is different.

  • charis May 17, 2013, 8:59 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Great idea of a website and it provides a wide platform of resources!

    Has anyone here considered homeschooling or home education as its more widely known in the UK regardless of where they live?

    We moved from the UK to south East Asia with my husband’s job and werent sure how long we’d be there.
    (We may be moving to Brisbane in the near future)
    We’ve settled for home- ed to avoid the trauma of having to change pre-school/ schools till we’re more settled.
    We realised that our little one was already learning and discovering plenty through ‘life’ itself and didn’t need nursery at 2/3. We were still compelled to look at nurseries and came away feeling it wasn’t necessary at that point.
    By the time he was 4, and we tried enrolling in a nursery, we realised that it really wasn’t worth the time, money and all that school- run in the morning..
    By the Grace of God, he’s picked up reading through read-alouds of living books and just living daily life. The books they were doing in nursery were way too watered down and not as meaningful.
    School culture would be different and not all ‘learning styles’ catered for as it would be quite a challenge for a teacher to mete out a lesson in four different ways and make sure it goes down with everyone.

    On top of that, there’s bullying issues, sexual harrasments, substance abuse which can be pretty widespread even in so called private schools and all these accepted just part of life. As far as I know, there’s a growing number of home- educators in the UK and worlwide and lot of it has also to do with social factors like bullying, values and esteem that parents wish to instill and nurture at an impressionable age as well cater for children’s learning styles.

    Bob, as we may move to Brisbane,
    which areas would you recommend suitable for quite, peaceful family living, accessible to amenities yet not too noisy or crowded. Not too isolated either.
    how is the communication of the school/ teachers with parents in the primary school your child is in, and would like to know how the High schools/ tertiary Ed are like in Brisbane especially the social aspect.
    Having said that, there’re many avenues and options for tertiary Ed even online which some US Universities are gearing towards in the future.
    We’ve had positive experiences on our holiday to Australia (Perth) people were warm and friendly and seemingly humble too!

    We had a flat tyre and had to pull up by the roadside in the city centre (fortunately not on the highway!) We had many onlookers and one of them, though he was all dressed up waiting for friends outside a restaurant offered to help us change our tyre as he saw us struggling.

    • BobinOz May 19, 2013, 7:12 pm | Link

      Hi Charis

      I’ve never thought about or considered home education, but it must be well established here in Australia as a quick search has revealed a website set up by the “Home Education Association” of Australia.

      As for where to live in Brisbane, it’s always difficult for me to advise people which suburb to go for, everybody’s needs and likes are so different. I love it where I am, that’s Western suburbs of Brisbane, look for Brookfield, Pullenvale, Moggill, Bellbowrie and Anstead. I think they are all great places to bring up kids, it’s a bit like living in the countryside but you’re only 30 to 40 minutes drive from the city.

      We’ve been quite impressed with our daughter’s school, but she is only in grade 4, early days yet. At this stage, I don’t know enough about high schools or tertiary education to advise you about that.

      Hope that helps, cheers, Bob

  • Jim May 14, 2013, 1:44 pm | Link

    The SACE is very bad, hard and difficult because of the research project for year 11 students 16-17 years old.

    • BobinOz May 14, 2013, 9:36 pm | Link

      For anyone who needs to know, that’s South Australian Certificate of Education; I had to Google it myself 🙂

  • hey February 21, 2013, 9:02 pm | Link

    I think our education system is fine. That is when you get to yr 12; that’s when it gets horrible and I HATE it. Here in NSW, they put so much pressure on you to do well. Not only do you have to do well in the HSC but you have to do well in all your assessment tasks during the year as well to get a good ATAR which absolutely SUCKS!!!! But other than that, Australia is a pretty chill country and I wouldn’t want to leave anywhere else permanently. 😀

    • BobinOz February 21, 2013, 9:16 pm | Link

      Are you in year 12 by any chance hey?

      Don’t let it get to you, chill out a bit, it will all work out in the end 🙂 and there’s always the beach at the weekend!

  • swapsies August 22, 2012, 8:08 pm | Link

    Hi. I have been reading this with interest for a few reasons.
    My son is currently in th UK system and on his (wet) summer holidays and about to start year 3 in september.
    We were able to get him into a good school, which he has been in since preschool, but not all can. We have people baptising kids to try to get their children into better schools and people faking addressed etc. Its dog eat dog.
    We have been very lucky but some of the schools near us are quite poor. The one thing I will say about ours is, however, that there is a very big emphasis on testing (he has just done SATS and our areas still had the 11 plus) and there is a LOT of homework and “parental guidelines”. The 11 plus has now been moved to early September so kids spend their entire summer holidays cramming and with tutors. Such a shame for the last summer holiday of primary school.
    Nanny state is alive and well in the North West by the way…we have bedtime directives, have been to school run parenting classes and have strict lunch box policies where food is removed from kids lunchboxes if inappropriate. Hats and gloves are not permitted by our school.
    Unforttunately, the school didnt have a sports day at all this year.
    I am actually quite happy with the level of education the school provides but have to say I dont feel my son is valued or has been given the support he needs as he is “smart enough” and “easy”. He is one of those kids who is just below the “top kids” and above the average (if that makes sense). So he is just left to cruise along. I didnt even know what his teacher looked like until 6 months into the year – there is very little contact with teachers.
    I have a good impression of Australian schools, having been educated there (including 3 Universities in Queensland) but am aware things may have well and truly changed. ( I am in my 40’s).
    I am a lecturer in a UK University and the Uni I teach at doesnt even rank in the top 50 in the world, yet one of the ones I attended in Queensland is in the top 20 this year. So, I am quite confident tertiary education is reasonable in Australia.
    That being said, you obviously have some pretty top Uni’s here – 2 of them in the top 5 or the world.
    We will be coming o Brisbane next year and Ive checked out a few primary schools. Im hoping to see how they measure up and will let you know.

    • BobinOz August 25, 2012, 1:11 am | Link

      Hi swapsies

      Lunchbox inspections? Nanny state is alive and well here in Australia too, but I don’t think we have those yet. I’d have to check with Mrs BobinOz.

      No sports day? Don’t think that happens in many Australian schools, sport is very important here.

      It’ll be very interesting to hear how you compare today’s Australian education with how you remember it and also directly with current standards in the UK. There’s quite a bit of testing that goes on here too, almost to an unhealthy level at times. It’s all to do with this NAPLAN thing, which I think is the same as SATS. Personally, I don’t think this sort of testing improves education, kids end up learning parrot fashion at the expense of creativity.

      But, and I hope you find this to be the case, it’s not as difficult here as it is in the UK to snag yourself a decent school for your child. I know all the stuff that goes on there, temporarily renting accommodation in the right area just for the postcode, that sort of thing. People have been known to move to be within the catchment area of a better school here, but it hasn’t got (as far as I’m aware) to the kind of desperation to which you refer.

      I hope you and your family settle here well, and please do come back to us and let us know how you get on with the schools.



  • Linda July 4, 2012, 3:01 pm | Link

    Thanks for your research Bob on Education Standards. As a teacher here in Australia, PISA is the body with the most reliable statistics. Their stats are the ones most countries look to when researching how they can improve.

    Finland is the place to be if you want the best outcomes at the moment! Here is where you can access the latest data. and also a link to the 2009 data

    You will find the 2011 stats show that Australia is ahead of the UK in all three areas. We are lagging behind other Asian countries though – a concern.

    You will not come across many bright sparks in the average Aussie pub…. People here go to pubs for two things, to drink and pick up.. No fantastic conversation there! Due to the glorious weather, people tend to socialise more at their own homes. If you are coming to Australia to live, try and find a group of friends you can socialise with at BBQs etc. and you will find much better conversation.

    I feel the standards have decreased since the intensity of NAPLAN testing and its supposed importance. Teachers spend much of first term feeling like they have to “teach to the test” so to speak. You will always find great schools and lacking schools no matter where you live.

    Great site by the way!

    • BobinOz July 5, 2012, 9:58 pm | Link

      Hi Linda

      I only go to pubs to drink these days, not pick up 🙂 otherwise Mrs BobinOz wouldn’t let me out! Anyway, I’ve heard Finland is a great country and it looks like they are doing a wonderful job in educating their children.

      But it’s a bit too cold for me.

      On a more serious note, yes, I too believe the importance placed on these tests in Australian schools is detrimental, they seem determined to simply teach children how to do well at the tests. My daughter started year three in January and straight away they started “revising” for the tests. It doesn’t really feel natural to me.

      Thanks for those links, I’ve downloaded those PDFs and will have a good look later.



  • Loopy Lou June 21, 2012, 7:12 am | Link

    I have been reading the thread and found it very interesting, and thought that I would ask for some help!!

    We are currently going through the process of applying for a visa to Oz and plan to go out there after my daugher has completed her GCSE’s, so she will be 16 when we get out there. We will be living in WA, Perth area and I have been trying to work out where she will fit into the education system. If we were staying on in the UK she would be staying in the 6th form and studying A’Levels, but I can not seem to be able to suss out exactly where she would fit in out in Austrailia. Any help would be appreciated!!

    • BobinOz June 21, 2012, 1:28 pm | Link

      Check out my post about the Australian School System, about halfway down you will see a couple of paragraphs about how to work out which year your child would go into. It depends on your daughters birthday, have a read and you should be able to work it out to see what year she will go into when she gets here.

      I think the information is still valid and I also think it works for Western Australia, but I can’t guarantee it. Maybe somebody else might chime in and help here too.

      Good luck!

  • STM April 11, 2012, 9:43 pm | Link

    Geez, we have lots of polarised opinion on this one, don’t we? It’s been a while since I was at school but I went to high school in both countries … and didn’t find them that different. In fact, the transition from an English secondary school to an Australian high school was seamless (and the first one I went to in Australia had an added bonus … girls!)

    Even the study of history back then was quite similar (as you’d expect, given Australia’s ties to the UK on just about every level). Sport was a walk-up start, as I was in NSW, where the same team sports as those in the UK are played (no Australian football like in the heathen states) – especially cricket, the two rugby codes but also soccer to a lesser extent. Netball, too, is extremely popular here among girls of high-school age. Then there’s the beach, and surfing …

    There was little difference really in the curriculum, although I did better in maths in Oz as I had a great teacher.

    Here’s the rub, though: I always felt I had more opportunity in Australia, and I was made to feel that way by my teachers.

    And when I left school, I walked into the career I wanted without any formal qualification because in those days they had an option … Q.B.E!

    A four-year cadetship, which actually now counts here as a formal qualification. Nothing like earning a buck while learning.

    I would imagine, in the wash-up, it’s entirely up to the individual and how motivated they are or how motivated their teachers are. But beyond standard curriculum, immediate environment is paramount in both places. A school in the east end of London in an area with lots of public housing might suffer the same kind of problems as a school in a lower socio-economic area of western Sydney. Everyone has the same chances on paper, but we know that’s not true anywhere.

    I returned to the UK to work at one point, in the 1980s, and met up with some of my old school friends.

    I felt luckier, was certainly earning more money – except for one bloke – and felt liberated from any worries about class. No one in Australia has ever, in the 35 years I’ve been in my job, asked me what school I went to, or felt they could decide that by how I spoke, acted or dressed.

    That is certainly not the case in the UK. It’s better than it was since Maggie Thatcher opened up the idea of meritocracy, but class-consciousness is still there, bubbling away as ever, and not just under the surface, either.

    For me, there’s no real comparison: While the education systems might be similar and produce results accordingly, and while I love the UK, overall it’s like choosing between a nice, ripe tropical mango full of sunshine or a small, green apple with spots on it. I’ll go the mango every time.

    • BobinOz April 12, 2012, 9:02 pm | Link

      STM, yes, this debate does appear to have formed a red corner and a blue corner. Glad you came along to stand somewhere closer to the middle and give a points decision.

      I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts, although not so much through experience, but more out of hope. My daughter is only eight at the moment, and she has had a very pleasurable education here in Australia so far.

      She comes out of school smiling, always enjoys it and there doesn’t seem to be too much pressure. But she is learning and we have been very impressed with her mathematics and reading skills so far.

      When I say hope, my hope is that she continues to enjoy her education here and still smiles coming out of school as she progresses up through the years. She also enjoys the sports she does at school, my recollection of PE when I did it way back when is largely dominated by thoughts of fear.

      Yes, our PE teacher was a sadistic perv in the old English tradition for sure.

      So I’m glad you have taken the time to give us your opinion, because having attended high school in both countries, your thoughts are based on real experience, which cannot be beaten.

      For those of you confused by the QBE reference, you need to go back and read all these comments again. Well, not really, he means Qualified By Experience!

      Thanks STM, I was beginning to think Aussie education was losing this battle, it’s now back in the game.


  • Nc March 8, 2012, 12:02 am | Link

    Currently we are living in London, England. My daughter (4 years old in May) is due to start school in September. We are in the catchment area of two of the best schools in the area and gauranteed one or the other. However, we are thinking of moving to Australia due to my husband’s work (he’s an Aussie). I am all for it. However, I am thinking long and hard before making a definite decision. My difficulty besides the major life changing move is leaving behind a place at a school that is high up on the british league table. I have read all the comments and have found Mr Pasty’s comment extremely helpful. I am a believer of Steiner education and would send my daughter to one if there wasn’t a good school in my area. Mr pasty, you mentioned that the Steiner schools are subsidised by the government. Could you direct me to a wedpage/site that will give mw more info on steiner schools in Oz? And do you know whether this subsidy is in Adelaids and Melbourne (we’re not even sure where we will move to!!).


    • BobinOz March 9, 2012, 11:49 pm | Link

      In case Mr Pastry doesn’t show up, just Google ‘Steiner education Australia’ and you will have all the information you could possibly want.

  • someone March 2, 2012, 11:33 pm | Link

    Take it from someone who just went through high school. Throw away the “A Levels” and “O Levels” rubbish and look at it for what it is. The Australian education system is a farce. It’s terrible, it’s pathetic and it is ruining this country. This year in South Australia, the SACE Board decreased the number of compulsory subjects from 5 down to 4. I can’t believe how ridiculous that is. Half my friends can’t even spell after 12 years of school and these were not stupid students, these are friends who are currently in TAFE and University doing hard courses. Teachers pass students even if they fail, simply because it is a convenience for the student. Schools do a state wide spelling test in year 8 and year 10 and do absolutely nothing about the students who fail it. You can score a 10/70 and they won’t even care or move you into extra classes to fix your poor spelling. What the hell are tax payers paying for in this country? Oh, that’s right, Gillard built a bunch of school gyms and bought some laptops as part of her “Education Revolution”. Last time I checked, the human race has gone millions of years without laptops and yet for some reason the silly politicians who run this country think laptops are key? And school gyms? Wow.

    • BobinOz March 5, 2012, 5:20 pm | Link

      You clearly do not rate the Australian education system, but maybe if you had gone to a UK school, you wouldn’t have rated that either? Perhaps if your friends went to the UK school, they’d still not be able to spell?

      Not sure what is going wrong with your schools where you are, but where I live the local school is doing a great job in teaching my eight-year-old daughter how to spell.

    • jospanner May 27, 2012, 11:10 pm | Link

      A bit of good old fashioned good manners is something our schools could usefully teach to improve the quality of public dialogue. For instance if someone were to refer to me by my surname (lets call me Spanner) I would feel they were either trying to insult me or were being over familiar in a jocular way and either way they would not escape whipping (metaphorically). Whatever one thinks of a person, in particular our Prime Minister, common politeness is the baseline. It can be Ms Gillard, Miss Gillard (if she’s happy about that – its come back into fashion in France – Mademoiselle – women of any age who are proud to make it quite clear they are not and never have been married), or Julia Gillard (if you cant stomach the political correctness of “Ms” – and I have a funny feeling that might just be the case) but in a public situation most unlikely Julia. Nice name, but its personal, for private life, desperately needed I’d think. Used in public, or in public media, ‘Julia’ would be either patronizing, diminishing or over familiar in the line of flattery or manipulation and fake friendliness. Dont underestimate Australians, not everyone is everyone’s mate.
      On the laptop issue you might be interested in this. About 20 years back i had the opportunity to inspect the laptop belonging to a primary school student at one of Melbourne’s most prestigous girls schools. A compaq laptop was quite an expensive item back then, but all the young gels had to have one. Point is there was nothing the child used the laptop for which could not have been done with coloured paper squares and scissors. Oh, yes, and books.

  • BobinOz February 28, 2012, 11:54 pm | Link

    I don’t even know what matriculation means! (I do now, I just Googled it).

    It wouldn’t surprise me if there are different qualification criteria for Australian students compared to foreign students, but I don’t know. Perhaps somebody does? Anybody?

    • Mr Pastry February 29, 2012, 9:59 am | Link

      Overseas intake is not about qualification it is about paying full fees. The overseas full fee paying student FFS is a cash cow that most unis rely on to make the books balance. A FFS will get onto most courses (even into medicine) providing they have the cash and a slight indication of relevant previous learning. Australian students have stricter rules as they have HECs, government and departmental policies to interfere and complicate funding, which makes the AUstraian HECs student less profitable. If you want an international standard, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is used for this purpose and common with well to do families that move countries regularly (imo probably the best standard). Although IB is not as challenging as A levels it covers more subjects to keep uni options open. But if a kid knows what career path they want at an early age A levels are superior and I have been told that an A level student (maths sciences etc not media studies!) in an Australian uni will already know the first years work. Education is state controlled each with a completely different (and bloated) education department, although there are the beginnings of a national curriculum. If you have the cash you can get into most unis if you can pay the full fee, but that’s the same anywhere.

      • Made in Malaysia February 29, 2012, 3:31 pm | Link

        Hi Mr. Pastry:
        Thanks for your explanation. That will certainly explain why I (and my counterpart) keep bumping into less satisfying graduates at my place. However, as you mentioned above some might even find a place in highly critical courses like medicine as long as they have the cash, wouldn’t the uni be more than worry about those graduates they produced is going to bring them bad rep? Furthermore, eventually after the students graduated they are suppose to make the call for some “life and death” matters! Don’t the authority, be it the government, medical governing board or to a lesser degree the uni admin see the need to put up stricter control or tighter net to prevent some less than qualified students from graduating?

        • BobinOz March 1, 2012, 1:13 am | Link

          I’m hoping that Mr Pastry knows the answer and I’m hoping it’s going to be “students with enough money will always qualify to get on the course, but cash will not guarantee they will pass and therefore go on to practice their chosen work professionally”.

          Otherwise, it’s all a bit scary, isn’t it?

          • jospanner May 27, 2012, 10:52 pm | Link

            damn right its scary. and Australians are racing off to SE Asia to get their dentistry done because even if you add cost of airfares and holiday to recover its a better deal than being held to ransom by an Australian, or any, dentist in Australia. Australians have thought it reasonable to have faith in these dentists because mainly they studied in Australia or America, but if the quality of the inbound students was not the best then the homebound young professional might not be so good. Of course Made in Malaysia you must take on board the other side to this issue – there are growing number of rather cross Australians who have been unable to get places in very popular courses. Some time spent round Melbourne Uni or the nearby hospitals makes it clear who does get the places and where they come from. This doesn’t help relations between the groups and I’ve heard some very bitter comments from young Australians I’ve known over the last 25 years.

  • Made in Malaysia February 27, 2012, 1:52 pm | Link

    To make it more on perspective on what I wrote above, let me give you a real life example. One student in a local international school (Western Australian syllabus) manage to obtain a single ‘E’ in his A-level (Cambridge LES) out of 4 subjects he took. Monash offered him a place and he took their foundation course and enter the university with ease. Isn’t it sound like the uni is eying more on the financial aspect than education? It’s the case of “if we don’t take him, some other uni will, so why not”? Further to that this is the type of students who will brag about their ‘Oversea Australian Education’ yada yada….

    • BobinOz February 27, 2012, 10:47 pm | Link

      Hi Made

      Now I see more clearly what you’re saying. For Australia, selling education overseas is a major income earner for this country. So I suspect that as it is purely a financial arrangement, it is not in the University’s interest to turn people away.

      As a result, these universities are probably taking in students that aren’t really up to it. But business is business and they will take the students money and do the best they can to provide the education.

      This, I must add, is only my uneducated opinion as I have not looked into how it works fully. But it would stand to reason that if our universities are working with lower quality students, then the end product when they leave university will be of lower quality too.

      It would certainly explain the differences you are observing.

      • Made in Malaysia February 28, 2012, 1:13 pm | Link

        Hi Bob:
        Thanks for your update. May I ask if you know if there are different intake requirements for local (OZ) and foreign students to enter OZ unis? As far as I know, year 12 or the equivalent is the requirement, and plenty of foreign colleges (eg. in Singapore, Malaysia) are offering some form of OZ matriculation program and those are fully recognised by OZ unis. Due to the differences in syllabus a lot of our local students prefer OZ matriculation over A-level (seen as tougher) and it’s certainly a surer way to enter OZ unis. Just curious if anyone ever mention this to you?

  • Made in Malaysia February 24, 2012, 7:45 pm | Link

    Hi Bob:
    I’d like to offer my 2 cents worth of opinion. In my work place we have plenty of Australian graduates with some graduated from ‘renown’ universities like Monash and Melbourne U. Some did obtain their bachelor degree through a certain ‘backdoor method’ ie twinning program with local colleges but a lot did their full course in Australia. However, in general I do find that their work related knowledge in general is quite low, being good in presentation skills with good confidence, but with little to offer. I mean, a lot of those are good in talking, throwing jargon, and sometimes snobbish and always make quotes like ‘back in Oz this is like this and that’ but can’t really deliver the job. This has been observed through a rather wide spectrum by some of my friends working in different industries. I just don’t know how’s your observation to that.

    • BobinOz February 25, 2012, 1:07 am | Link

      I observe that you don’t think much of the quality of education in Australia. Although it’s not clear to me what you’re comparing it with, is it the UK? Or somewhere else?

      • Made in Malaysia February 27, 2012, 1:43 pm | Link

        Maybe I was not clear enough with my comment so allow me to give you some explanation on our local scene with regards to tertiary education. Many parents in Malaysia like to send their kids for overseas education. Among the top choice is Australasia (Oz + NZ). Reason being they are the nearest English speaking ‘Western’ countries (eventhough geographically they are at the East, and also it means cheapest). From a personal experience, a lot of my own classmates who are extremely poor academically manage to get places in some ‘exotic’ courses not by merit, buy because the entry criteria was extremely loose for OZ uni in general. If those classmates of mine were to compete for a place in local uni they will never get a place of their preferred discipline of study. I’m not saying our local uni are of any high standard, but due to some political reason a students from a certain ethnic background has to do extremely well to earn a place in it while there are excessive ‘quota’ reserved for students from another ethnic background, think apartheid.
        Back to the original argument, when some of the local uni graduate bump into their friends who graduated from, say OZ, the observation that I made in my earlier post tend to show up. Is it because of the loose intake standard or just happening to this combination of Malaysian taking Oz tertiary education, I don’t know.

        • Ruby July 25, 2016, 9:58 pm | Link

          The Australian uni intake is based on demand. The entry cut-offs are based on how many people want to take the course, and how many places are availible. Students are accepted in the order of their exit grade (as far as I know) so their courses with the most demand for the least places (ie. Medicine and Law, for example) require very high grades for acceptance.

          The limited places are because domestic students don’t pay the full price for tertiary education. They have ‘Commonwealth Supported Places’ (or something like that). International students have to pay the full price for an Australian education. A university can accept as many of these full-paying students as they wish.

          Given that prerequisites for Australian universities are things like ‘passed English’, ‘took a science course’, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of international students (or any students really) would be ‘qualified’ to take the course.

          As for money rigging the graduation system, I can’t comment.

  • Homesick sheila February 19, 2012, 1:24 am | Link

    Very interesting threads. Having lived in Sydney (without children) for 10 years and been back in Scotland for 7 years I am hoping to get back to Oz this year (probably Brisbane area) with my 2 children of school age. I am concerned about education in Oz as know nothing about it. What I have heard from friends is that high school exams are a lot easier than they were 20 or more years ago in Scotland. I really believe schools/education is not nearly as good in Scotland as it once was. Can someone reassure me both the primary and secondary education in QLD is as good or better than that of Scotland/UK. I have researched public schools in Brisbane on NAPLAN and have found a school in Birkdale which seems to have decent ratings for primary children as that is where I intend moving to. Any advice would be much appreciated on QLD education and Birkdale itself as an area to live. As all my friends are in Sydney apart from one in Brisbane I would hope to make some new friends. I would have thought people living in the suburbs in Brisbane would be more friendly as a more laid back lifestyle than Sydney. I have a lot of friends in Sydney both Ozzie ad British and would hope to make friends in Birkdale but after reading some of the comments now wonder.
    Thanks for listening and hope to receive some advice.

    • Mr Pastry February 20, 2012, 9:19 am | Link

      If you want to educate your kids in a known quantity, check out the International standard based Montessori and Steiner schools. On the NAPLAN ratings they rank near the top, even though they do not train the children to do the test. Many state schools now have lessons titled NAPLAN testing, just to improve their ratings (that’s public servants for you)!. The Montessori and Steiner schools are private but very reasonable (most of it is paid by government). We use a Montesorri school now (tried state but it was awful), and the kids love it. If you’re going to use state schools go to and check out the OP scores and NAPLAN sites. Some state schools do not have air conditioning which teachers say loses two months of learning a year due to the heat/humidity. In the end a smart student will be smart at whatever school they go to as the encouragement and help they receive at home probably makes a larger impact than just sending to a fancy school. Just a tip, with private schools the subsidy from the government is larger in the low socio areas, many know this and will live near but not inside the calf tattoo zone as they benefit from really good cheap private education, courtesy of government policy.

      • Homesick sheila February 20, 2012, 10:08 am | Link

        Thanks for this information Mr Pastry I will certainly look at the schools you mention. You are probably correct about childs ability and the encouragement they get at home but as you know education is a big concern for parents who care and know how important it is. I never even gave it a thought about the point you made on air conditioning. Good tip about private education in low socio areas (although will have to look up calf tattoo zone). Learned a lot from your post – thanks

        • BobinOz February 21, 2012, 5:22 pm | Link

          Hi Homesick

          Also, check out my page called Which school?,especially the useful links at the bottom and read all the comments on those pages. There’s lots of information about schools and the quality of Australian education.

      • jospanner May 27, 2012, 10:31 pm | Link

        what’s this “calf tatoo zone”? Never seen a calf tatooed on anyone, just about everythng else but never a calf.
        If you were living in Melbourne would the Mornington peninsula be the sort of area you are talkling about?

        • BobinOz May 28, 2012, 10:14 pm | Link

          It’s got me beat, and Google as well. A search for “calf tatoo zone” doesn’t help at all.

          I think we need Mr Pastry to answer that one, although I wonder if he uses dictation software. That’s the sort of typo you can get with DragonDictate if you don’t check your work.

          Mr Pastry?

    • Giant_Ginger_Ninja March 23, 2012, 3:33 pm | Link

      Just like to add, when it comes to your children eventually moving into high school, you’ll want to find a school with a high OP outcome. An OP is an overall position (The rating is from 1 to 25, best to worst respectively). This is what your child will leave highschool with and is used to get into university. It’s dictated by your child’s grades in respect to all the other children studying each of their subjects. The idea is to get as much distance in your grades between you and the next person. So you want to be at the top of your class, but the lower the marks of your classmates the better for you because you appear ‘more intelligent’. This combined with a Queensland wide test call the QCS test (Queensland Core Skills) goes towards determining a child’s OP. The better a school achieves overall in this test, the higher the children’s OPs will be because, again, they must be ‘more intelligent’. I personally believe it is completely unfair but other students results directly impact your child’s in this way.
      You also have to consider that no matter how well a child does at school, someone has to get an OP 25. This is because every child’s score is pitted against each other (hence overall position). Roughly the top 2.5% of students will achieve an OP 1, and the bottom percentage will achieve an OP 25. Basically, a child with straight C’s in a state school will likely have a lower OP than a child with the same marks in a private school as they more often perform better in the QCS test. This only affects students in Queensland, but eventually it is something you should consider in senior schooling. I think the reason they use the QCS test is because every school has different tests throughout the year. The teachers themselves make these tests which means some schools may be getting something easier than others. I guess it’s supposed to level the playing field?

      • BobinOz March 26, 2012, 9:23 pm | Link

        The system sounds quite complicated, hard for me to work out how good or bad it is. Wikipedia say this…

        “This range of possible results is bell curved so the percentage of students receiving the very highest and very lowest results is much less common than those receiving mid-range OPs.”

        So it’s not a straight line.

        I do take your point, but I also wonder what kind of system would be totally fair? Different children are being taught by different teachers with different levels of competence and skills. They are in different schools with different resources and have different distractions from their different friends.

        Yet at the end of it all we need a way of comparing all of these students with each other nationally. Not easy, is it?

        • Giant_Ginger_Ninja March 28, 2012, 8:16 pm | Link

          I completely understand about trying to compare results, I just believe that the way it is done could be much more simply and fair. I just graduated last year and I along with anyone else I discussed this with were unhappy with the system. One of my friends managed to get A’s to A+’s through out all her subjects, topping most of her classes and had an OP prediction of 1. However, because our school did poorly in the QCS test, she ended up with a 3. Now i know this is still a great achievement, but it is not fair that someone with the exact same results as her in a school which has had a better result in the QCS test will get a better OP. Carrying on, someone with worse results than her in one of these schools would be able to achieve the same OP as her. Simply giving every child the same tests and assignments would remove this unfair method.

          • BobinOz April 4, 2012, 1:07 am | Link

            Well I’m glad I am no longer at school, I’ve read your comments several times and still can’t get my head around this one.

            I think what you are saying is a school with a higher QCS will result in its students getting a higher OP for getting the same exam results as a similar student from a school that scored low in the QCS test.

            If that is the case, then yes, I agree it doesn’t seem fair.

            But then I’m not sure this is really the case, because several of your statements contradict themselves. And it’s for this reason that I don’t really understand the system.

            In different comments you have set the following:

            “Just like to add, when it comes to your children eventually moving into high school, you’ll want to find a school with a high OP outcome.”

            “the lower the marks of your classmates the better for you because you appear ‘more intelligent..”

            “Basically, a child with straight C’s in a state school will likely have a lower OP than a child with the same marks in a private school as they more often perform better in the QCS test.”

            I want to understand this, but I see contradictions everywhere. I’m glad this isn’t a test 🙂

          • Izzie May 30, 2013, 1:02 am | Link

            The problem is that the QCS is needed. It shows that the schools who got the same results as your friend but got an OP did better in the QCS which suggests that their education standard is higher and possibly more difficult. Also you did not mention which subjects your friend did nor what her ranking was within her class. A friend of mine graduated last year with an OP 16 and she got all A’s in her classes, the problem was she was the bottom of all of her classes (everyone else in her classes were getting A+). This had nothing to do with the QCS but simply her choice of subjects. When choosing subjects you really need to choose ones that allow you to perform well without the rest of the class doing well too. Even if she was topping all of her classes it all depends on what she put into the QCS test. From the looks of things she only put in an OP 3 results in her own QCS. While people often complain about how other people’s marks effect yours, in reality they don’t effect them very much.

            The problem with giving kids the same assignments and tests is that teachers mark differently and also some schools perform on a different level to others. If the tests and assignments were based on the highest results then lower kids would have no chance to learn and achieve, whereas if they were set to the lowest results education standards would drop massively because everyone would be labelling maps in grade 12 Geography.

          • Izzie May 30, 2013, 1:03 am | Link

            Sorry my mistake you did mention that she was topping all of her classes, I would suggest that her result was due to no one putting in an OP 1 result then. Which is sad but it cannot be blamed on the system.

      • Izzie May 30, 2013, 12:49 am | Link

        As a student who is currently completing my grade 12 year of school in QLD, I must inform you on some basic misunderstandings with the OP system. The QCS is designed so that you can compare different subjects and schools. How our career guidance counsellor explained it to us “it is like a box. Everyone in the school puts in their QCS result, which corresponds to an OP rank. Then depending on your individual class rankings you take out an OP”. So if you are topping all of your classes you will take out the highest OP that was put into the box, this means that if the grade only puts in OP 1 level QCS results (not that this would ever happen) everyone in the grade would get an OP 1. The results of others do not make a very big difference except when looking at state average and class average. If your school achieves higher than state average in the QCS all the OP results get better by a few points. Similarly lets say Chemistry does better in the QCS than Art, their OPs will be higher. Lets say I went to a terrible school, but I was the top of my classes, I can still get an OP 1 if I put in an OP 1 QCS result. So when it comes down to it your results are not very much effected by the people around you, because in the end it is down to your own results in class and the QCS. If you did not have the QCS then an A in Maths C would be worth the same as an A in Maths A, which clearly is unfair. It is a confusing process which I do not fully understand, but no time during my schooling have I felt that I was disadvantaged by the people in my grade. I am predicted an OP 9 which I have brought down from an OP 11 and a hoping to bring down again to a OP 7.

        I plan on studying medicine despite not having a hope of graduating with an OP 1. In the end the OP is not an IQ test and should not dictate what you want to do with your life. The OP system is partially to blame why doctors are so self righteous in Australia. People believe that if they get an OP 1 they should just become doctors because they get paid more, not because they actually have a passion for practicing medicine. I have a friend who is predicted as an OP 1 who is planning on doing the exact same thing.

        • BobinOz May 30, 2013, 1:35 pm | Link

          Thank you for all of your input on this Izzie, I’m afraid the only thing I understood out of all of it was “It is a confusing process…” 🙂

          And it is, trying to understand it just makes my head spin. Surely it shouldn’t be this difficult, it wasn’t when I was at school. Anyway, I found this government website which, apparently, deals with several OP myths.

          I’ve read it, but I’m still confused.



          • Izzie May 30, 2013, 3:14 pm | Link

            It is a very confusing. I have spent 13 years of my school life, trying to understand and still only have a basic understanding. I do like the system even though I am not entirely sure how the finer details work. But admittedly I have never been schooled outside of QLD so there is not really much I can say 🙂

            • BobinOz May 30, 2013, 9:34 pm | Link

              I don’t think I will ever understand it, but I do think that any system which is that hard to comprehend should really be changed. Anyway, I hope you get the OP you need to do what you want to do with your life 🙂 cheers!

        • Ruby July 25, 2016, 10:09 pm | Link

          I just wanted to say that this is really a fantastic explanation of the system. Like any system it can be manipulated, perhaps more so than other state systems, but overall it is not outrageously biased or unfair. The OP system’s major failure is how complex are hard to understand it is!

          • BobinOz July 26, 2016, 4:16 pm | Link

            I think that hits the nail on the head Ruby. When a really good explanation of something is still difficult to understand, there has to be something that is just too complex about that thing.

            I think that’s what most people think about the OP set up, and as you say, its failure is its complexity. I keep hearing rumours it is going to be abolished at some time, we shall see.

  • jinks February 9, 2012, 8:58 pm | Link

    hi guys,
    just browsing to this sites finding out about oz. i been living here in UK (Leicester) for 11 years now and planning to move down to south coast of oz (Adelaide). can you guys give me some advice if my plan is going to be better, like, cost of health services, cost of education, taxation, housing, cost of living.

    anyway, just few comments about the “good morning stuff” and who is better in education. good thing = yes, most of my neighborhood says good morning or how are you. worst thing = 90% of them are non British by origin. i made loads of good British friends in here. It means, that there are loads of friendly people in here but i saw few racist as well.
    in education, i don’t know how do you judge good education system. I do just it on how much they have learn in the school. I don’t know in the Oz but i am not impress in the UK’s way of teaching. I was 6 years old then and I already do know mathematics a bit loads. i can do addition and subtraction easily, i can do multiplication and division up 2 digits easily.
    In the UK, i know its not all, my manager frequently as me about spellings of some ENGLISH words. take note : she is a deputy manager (NURSE), she is an English woman and some of my senior colleague ask me do or check their essays and i am not an English myself and i do come from English speaking country.
    I am Filipino by origin anyway.


    • BobinOz February 13, 2012, 1:02 pm | Link

      So you are a foreigner living in the UK, but you don’t like it that the UK has a lot of foreigners living there? Interesting.

      Have a good look around this website jinks, all your questions about costs are answered somewhere. Try The Cost of Living in Australia of Everything first.

  • Mel February 7, 2012, 1:36 am | Link

    Sorry Bob,here is another vote for the Australian education system is rubbish. Its quality of subjects,teaching experience and results of producing educated youngsters is poor and lacks way behind most countries. And like it or not,Australian universities are utter tripe compared to the UK ones,would rather send my kid to Cambridge than godawful Melbourne! Also,you mentioned you never had anyone say hello to you in the UK in the morning. You must have come from London. As an Australian i lived in 4 cities apart from London in the U.K (Leeds,Newcastle,Liverpool,Edinburgh) and everyone would say hello to me in the morning,ask me how i was doing,etc and yes everyone in the British countryside is fixed on good community spirit. I never had that in Sydney or Perth and the Australian regional towns? forget it,perhaps a rock to the face or a ‘Go home filthy Canadian’ to my girlfriend but never a ‘Good Morning’

    • BobinOz February 7, 2012, 10:33 pm | Link

      Gosh! What a life you have had. Persecuted and threatened with rocks in Australia, now everyone says good morning to you, whether you are in Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool or Edinburgh.

      I am glad you have found happiness. But I still prefer the schools here to those in the UK 🙂

  • catchmeifyoucan February 3, 2012, 4:30 pm | Link

    i live in Australia for last 2 years and found that schools are much better with kids from almost all culture.They are treated son is very happy here.I was there in United States and UK for almost 5 years.As some one said..they may say good morning or Hi with a wide smile as if they know us for years even though it is a first time meeting, but it is only from their lips not from from their heart.Here in Sydney life is more faster and people don’t show that showoff but when we come closer to them we can see they are sincere.

    • BobinOz February 6, 2012, 10:11 pm | Link

      Thanks catchmeifyoucan, that’s another vote for the Australian education system over the UK and the USA.

      Oh, and I agree with you entirely.

  • Rachel January 30, 2012, 2:46 am | Link

    Hello, thought I might as well join the party and give my 2 cents.
    I went to oz with my family aged 13 so was obviously enrolled in both primary and high school during my 2 years there. We achieved citizenship status and went back to uk where I finished off my schooling (was put back a year as my oz qualifications were not understood by the school). I can put my hand on my heart and honestly say that Australian standards of education are, or were at the time, lower than the uk’s. So much emphasis was put on sporting activities in oz, homework was almost non-existent and uniform/books/equipment expenses had my poor parents quaking at the thought of sending two kids to school.
    I remember being totally horrified when the kids back chatted teachers and generally, how lax the rules were. Things may have changed now, for the better I hope. and yes, uk schools seem to be more accepting of foul mouthed adolescents now also.
    Ironically, I’m hoping to go back to oz to teach science and maths, subjects I felt were not taken seriously enough when I was a student there.
    I am glad that the majority of my education has happened in the uk, I’m just gutted my teaching qualification probably won’t be recognised in oz when I go back on the other side of the educational fence!
    anyway, that’s my view on the subject!

    • BobinOz January 30, 2012, 10:09 pm | Link

      Hi Rachael

      I’m not sure how long ago that was, but I’m guessing at least 10 years or maybe 15 years ago? I was speaking to a guy in the pub on Saturday night, and he first came to Australia 43 years ago.

      He tells me it is absolutely astonishing how much Australia has achieved in those years, saying it is a totally different country today. So I believe it is fair to say that things in the world of education have also improved vastly since you were last here.

      Meanwhile, back in the UK, the education authorities will claim standards have improved and that students are getting better pass marks than ever. Many others claim though, that the exams have been so dumbed down that it’s hard not to achieve those better pass marks.

      So I prefer to trust the work of PISA and TIMMS, above, because I do believe that they are unbiased and make every effort to accurately assess each country’s performance. And if they are saying Australia has a better educational assessment than the UK and the USA, I’m more inclined to believe them than anecdotal stories from parents and students from each country.

      Although, I do still thank you for your opinion and I hope you are out here teaching our children soon. Then, surely, you will be able to judge for yourself if things have improved or not since your time in school here.



  • Mark January 25, 2012, 11:11 pm | Link

    Sorry Bob i agree with Scot. I am an Australian and i find Australia to be a rather insular country. The people in the UK are a lot more warmer than here,ive noticed when ive been there that people say good morning to you even if they have never seen you before.while in Sydney they are more interested in themselves. I do prefer the history of Britain,and i dont like the way you seem to think the U.K is somewhat terrible,i find it beautiful,and the comments on the cities is Valid i feel,certainly on Tasmania,i dont how anyone could compare Launceston or Hobart to Bath,York,Winchester or London! as for comments on experience,im afraid ive had the opposite. Many brits i know have gone back home,and the people i meet over there (Sister emigrated there 4 years agon and loves it) dont have much to say in a positive light about Australians,but then thats my experience!

    • Meispod January 26, 2012, 2:10 pm | Link

      I love Australia the country, been here 20 years but the people are definitely insular and parochial. Here, is all about the climate (Melbourne excepted for obvious reasons) and if you find some welcoming Australians to socialise with, then you’ve been blessed. It is very difficult to gain social acceptance here, as people never come to visit when invited and never invite home people they did not go to school with. Just a note for any prospective migrants, do not think that Australia is an egalitarian place, it has a well bedded class structure that is immediately apparent and very ugly.
      As I said, spectacular country with glorious weather in parts but don’t expect much joy from the locals.

      • BobinOz January 29, 2012, 9:21 pm | Link

        Mark and Meispod, it seems everybody’s experience is different. My experience is totally opposite to that of you both. Maybe that is because of where I live, maybe I’ve been lucky.

        We’ve only been here four years and we have already made strong friendships with about 15 families, so 30 adults and about 20 children. Probably half of them are from the British Isles somewhere, and the other half are Australian. We have even more peripheral friends through other activities, like my football or our work or through our daughters school.

        Mark, I don’t know what part of the UK you are living in where people still say good morning to you even if they don’t know you, but I suspect you are in a small village somewhere, certainly not a major city. And I have never anywhere on this blog suggested that the “the U.K is somewhat terrible”. The UK is a pretty good country, it’s just that I prefer many things about living in Australia.

        But, as I said in response to comments before these, each to their own. It’s what makes the world go round.

  • Phil January 23, 2012, 8:42 pm | Link

    My wife, daughter, and I moved to Sydney from the U.S. – Florida -about 3 months ago. We love much about the place, but for the cost of living. It certainly is a unique country. One thing I notice about the schools here is that the children seem less exposed to some of the coarser aspects of culture to which American kids are exposed. In other words, there seem to be a bit less drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Not a whole lot less, but enough to be noticeable. We like that : ) Cheers, you have a great site!

    • BobinOz January 23, 2012, 11:58 pm | Link

      Yes, Sydney would seem expensive compared to Florida. Sydney seems expensive compared to the rest of the country 🙂

      Schools here do look and feel more like the kind of school I used to go to when I was a kid. Fewer gangs, less violence and drugs. I’m sure Australia will catch up at some point, but we (and our kids) should enjoy it while we can.

  • Scot January 23, 2012, 9:48 am | Link

    Im an Australian in the U.K and i totally DISAGREE with Cherrie. The U.K is so much better than Australia. For starters its a damn sight cheaper for everything,including groceries, and insurance. Australia lacks culture,and its cities are boring,danegerous and very ugly in my opinion. I also find the people to be very friendly in the U.K,while in Australia they are quite cold. Cherrie,Council Tax is not lower in Australia,its higher,and the taxes are growing. I also find your comment about swimming pools to be very odd,as i can do what you cant do apparently very easily. As for education,well the British nail the Australian to the ground,our education in OZ is DIABOLICAL to say the least. Bob,you mention the lifestyle you cant get in the U.K,well thats rubbish mate. Here in Devon the lirfestyle is way better than what horrid Tasmania ever did for me,give me the U.K any day over Oz!!!!

    • Cherrie January 23, 2012, 5:30 pm | Link

      Well there is a good point Scot You are comparing your life in Tasmania to life in Devon and I Sydney to London. Apples and Oranges.

      Local Government authorities in the UK manage facilities like schools and pools etc and set their own rules regarding admissions and rules at pools etc. They also set their own council tax where I pay $3192 AUD in Uk council tax as apposed to $832 AUD for a similar inner city house in Sydney.

      But I digress, the real issue when considering any move to another country is understanding the location/city or town within the country. Tasmania while being very beautiful, does have a lot less to offer culturally and services wise including schools and universities and is very different to where i grew up in NSW and have lived in Sydney. And there are huge differences between Devon and London too.

      Importantly individuals are just that – individual, with personal preferences for lifestyle, weather, visual aesthetics etc etc. We did a lot of research in order to make our decision to to move to the UK for 2 years. However its just not the same as actually living here. Similarly for those looking to move to Australia – the personal preferences of people expressed on this blog site are only part of the picture and they may have a completely different take on issues and situations when they are actually living there.

      • BobinOz January 23, 2012, 11:53 pm | Link

        Scott, as they say, “one mans meat is another man’s poison”. It’s okay for you to prefer the UK, but I really don’t see how you can describe Tasmania as horrid, Australian cities as dangerous or the Australian people as cold whereas people in the UK are friendly.

        That’s certainly not my experience or the experience of many others. As for Australian education being diabolical, the people whose job it is to study the quality of worldwide education (see my post above) certainly don’t agree with you.

        Cherrie, as you say, we are all individuals with different preferences, each to his own. Thank the Lord for that, otherwise we’d all be living in the same place and it would be awfully overcrowded 🙂

      • Deborah February 9, 2012, 10:07 am | Link

        I will try not to get into the debate too deeply..LOL..Cherrie, I pay $2900 council tax here in a small country town in Queensland..with NO services, no sewerage (and water rates are another $400 on TOP of my rates, a separate account)..and no kerb and gutters etc..

        Have lived in four states, and all pretty similar..

        Have educated four children..Firstly at a very tiny school inthe country, 45 kids altogether, nice school, but shocking education. Moved to the city and they went to a very lovely primary school of 150 children, good at the time for young children, but not a lot of learning happening. My personal thoughts are that parents need to take a lot of responsibility for their children, ie. teach them to read, write, maths, science LIFE skills, even before they ever start school, and make it fun..By the time the youngest was in year one, they were all in private education. This can still be iffy, as really the quality of the school and the culture depend on the morals and ethics of the Principal. We were very lucky, had a fantastic Principal and the school was very small, again, and had students from aged 4 to aged 18. Having had hundreds of exchanges students over the years, my observations are that USA education concentrates on USA..and we ony had one or two students who had any idea that the rest of the world existed, UK were very aware, European students were amazingly educated, and so were South Americans, although this would be skewed as we only had the very fortunate and wealthy who had many advantages (obviously the rest cannot afford exchanges)…..

        • BobinOz February 13, 2012, 12:45 pm | Link

          Wow, somebody is on the take in your small town. I pay $1072 a year (excluding sewerage and water) in council tax here in Brisbane. Big difference eh!

    • mrs t May 27, 2013, 3:09 pm | Link

      Scott, I COMPLETELY agree with you. I’m from the UK and have been out here for three years. Planning my escape real as I type this 🙂

  • Herb September 7, 2011, 7:32 am | Link

    Bob – your stats are out of date. Latest TIMMS Year 4 Maths Scores…England (17th) well below Australia(11th) and USA (12th). Similar strory in Year 8.

    • BobinOz September 7, 2011, 8:00 pm | Link

      It’s an old post Herb, 18 months old at the moment. It’ll get older as well. So yes, now the stats are out of date. But they weren’t when I wrote it.

      I never “update” old posts unless I discover something that might be misleading in it or have something incredibly interesting to add. But I often write new posts about the same subject matter when information is updated, maybe I’m due to write another one about these worldwide education tables.


  • tom September 6, 2011, 6:03 pm | Link

    I am afraid that I am rather shocked at the arrogance of some of these comments, please people, wake up to the truth that the UK system is unfair, inconsistent just like everything else in the current UK society. Postcode lotteries, two faced policies and so on, some people get everything while others get nothing!!
    All you have to do is take a look around at the youth of this country and in one second flat you can work out that something with these kids is severely wrong.
    At least in Australia every child gets an even break(within reason) from when they start school until they finish, the rest is up to the individual how they progress, lets do a maths and spelling survey on 15 yr olds to prove this, who cares if the kids are pushed harder in early years in the UK, just makes kids resentful later on.

    • BobinOz September 7, 2011, 7:54 pm | Link

      Tom, I’m really not sure what you mean about arrogance in some of the comments, but I do take your points about the state of the youth in the UK at the moment.

      I think there are some serious problems in certain areas which need to be addressed, it’s why I didn’t want to bring my daughter up in England.

      • Sam January 5, 2012, 5:11 am | Link

        After being here for 4 years Bob,i cant wait to get home to England. I would never bring up my children in Oz even if you paid me,this is an expensive,overregulated nanny state and my children hate it here,as do i!

        • BobinOz January 5, 2012, 12:37 pm | Link

          Well Australia isn’t for everyone, sounds like it’s not for you. Personally, wild horses couldn’t drag me back to England, even if they could walk on water.

        • cherrie January 20, 2012, 9:01 pm | Link

          i am an ozzy in the uk and i have to say i cant wait to get back to oz. My child ended up in a public school here in london which was not even one of our 6 preferences of school which the council required us to submit before taking 6 weeks to offer our child a place at a school. Our first 6 choices of school here were also compromises for us but we cannot afford the private school tuition fees here in the UK.
          I find the UK to be much more of a nanny state than oz. here i cannot even take my 2 children to the pool at the same time on my own, i need to have a 1:1 ratio regardless of the fact that my older child can swim freestyle and can i swim too. the cost of living is as high if not higher than australia here in the uk and the wages even for professionals is far lower than in australia. the lifestyle is substandard comparatively and formal schooling here starts too early and pushes too hard. 12 months to go and counting before we can get back home . I cant wait! Australian school system here we come voluntary contributions and all! After all council tax in australia is very low compared to the UK and council tax in the UK helps to fund schools. So even paying a voluntary contribution to the school the total cost of schooling is less in australia.

          • BobinOz January 22, 2012, 9:13 pm | Link

            It’s good to hear the views of somebody coming from the opposite direction, if you see what I mean.

            I couldn’t agree with you more Cherrie, that’s why I moved here. We have been more than impressed with the school system and the quality of schooling here.

            Some people complain about all sorts of things here, from schools to tax, from cost of living to traffic jams and that its a nanny state here in Australia. Well, I say “try the UK”.

            I’m glad that, as an Aussie, you have tried the UK and you don’t like it either. So I hope those final 12 months go by quickly and we look forward to you returning back down under soon.

            Personally, between the UK and Australia, I think it’s all swings and roundabouts when it comes to taxes, schooling, cost of living and all that stuff. There’s really not much in it when you look at it all. But the one thing the UK can’t give its people that Australia can is the lifestyle. That is priceless.

            Thanks for sharing your views Cherrie.

    • jospanner May 27, 2012, 10:16 pm | Link

      ‘every child in Australia gets an even break, within reason’ – if you can believe some of what you read in the Australian and half of what you hear – I have no direct experience in this – children in many indigenous communities dont get much chance, haven’t come within coo ee of it since the missionaries were shooed off the reservations and are getting less chance with every passing term notwithstanding increasing ammounts are being spent on whatever they are. They (the indigenous schoolchildren) must be pulling our international rating down something shocking and as they are no longer dying off but rebuilding their population they stand to pull us down even more as the new survivors grow up and go to school. To be sure our leaders must be calling out for some clever people to forward their Modest Proposals to improve this situation.

      • BobinOz May 28, 2012, 10:09 pm | Link

        I suspect all countries have certain areas in their society that pull their international ratings down one way or another, I think it’s a fact of life that schooling in remote areas is always going to be below standard.

        Maybe Australia’s “below standard” might just be slightly better than those in other countries.

  • Linda September 3, 2011, 6:44 pm | Link

    Sorry – I didn’t finish – last time I checked Australian ranked 6th overall ahead of the UK.

    • BobinOz September 5, 2011, 6:50 pm | Link

      Thanks Linda, certainly it is the OECD that appears to have the most credence. Many people seem surprised when they hear that Australian education standards are ahead of both the UK and the USA. We’ve been very impressed with the schools around here though.


  • Linda September 3, 2011, 6:43 pm | Link

    The OECD list – as mentioned earlier is the best guide – I am a teacher here in Queensland and it certainly depends on the school you go to but overall last year Australia on the OECD data in the world – better than the UK and certainly better than the USA.

  • Jane June 2, 2011, 2:02 pm | Link

    Regarding the PISA and TIMMS education comparisons the PISA one is the survey which is considered to be the most accurate and the only one anyone really take notice of. It is run by the OECD and covers mathematics, science and literacy. When Oprah did a show on the low standards of education and schooling across he USA she mentioned the PISA study and lamented how the USA was either average or below average in every area. Australia does better than the USA and UK in the PISA study but even Australia has been slipping since the survey first started. Australia was top 5 in each of the 3 areas but has slipped to top 10 or below in mathematics.

    • BobinOz June 6, 2011, 12:19 am | Link

      Useful information Jane, thank you. I wonder why it is major countries like the US, UK and Australia have slipped down the ranks? Is it because other countries, traditionally not as well educated, are now seeing the opportunities presented by the global village known as the Internet and are now working harder to educate themselves so they can join in?

  • BobinOz July 19, 2010, 10:14 pm | Link


    It’s great to hear that your two daughters of doing so well at school, you are entitled to be proud. I’m even going to forgive you for the puns. I have to, have you seen my jokes?

    For sure, the states “free” education here isn’t free. There are things that need to be bought. Our little girl is only in year one but we had to fork out about $130 for stuff, and we were also asked for $50 “voluntary contribution”. We did pay it.

    But we do know of people who didn’t pay and they too did get reminders. One lady we knew complained about the reminders and they stopped. Sounds like your old school were a little enthusiastic in trying to collect the money. A collections agency! What’s all that about? It all sounds totally out of order to me. I hope they got their knuckles rapped.

    It’s early days for us, but we have been really pleased with the quality and standard of education and our daughter has received. It’s encouraging to hear that you feel the same. I’d be really interested to hear how your daughters slot in when you get back to Ireland and whether you feel they are ahead of their peers or they’re behind.

    If you can keep in touch, it’d be great.



  • Jon July 19, 2010, 4:57 pm | Link

    Having 2 daughters at school in two different states in Oz, I think I’m “qualified” to make an ‘educated’ addition to this thread (pardon the puns, it has been a long day 🙂

    When we were in QLD, my daughters were at a state school (Public school) on the gold coast. It was a fairly modern school, having been built around 5 years earlier.

    The school was well structured with its program and they encouraged a lot of outdoor activities, which both the climate and the curriculum supported.

    Now, its been quite a while since I last attended a primary school, But, back in the day back home (Northern Ireland) we were given free school dinners, milk and although I do recall being given Christmas cards to sell and the odd sponsored walk form being sent home, requests for money was a rare occurrence. Not so with QLD public school, first of all they sent us a list of what our daughters would need. My eldest was going into grade 1 (primary one) and youngest was going into “Prep” (In QLD terms, I guess this was like a Nursery level, or somewhere between nursery and primary 1 perhaps?) my grade 1 daughter had a list which was more than extensive, it was phenomenally big! in total it amounted to $376 worth of stationary that the school said she would need for the year. This included a calculator and an atlas – two items which the school openly said she would not use in grade one, but “the curriculum requires her to have one” why? (still waiting on an answer to that)

    my youngest wasn’t much better in terms of what she’d need. $225 of stationary was needed for her. These things included items such as soaps, hand tissues and sunblock/mosquito spray.

    so, we got all those and the teacher of their respective classes did the administration and stored the items away for use throughout the year.

    next, we got a letter asking us for a “voluntary contribution”, this was, as the name suggests, a ‘voluntary contribution’ to the school of $110 per child (when my kids were there) and this allowed the school to cover costs such as printing and photocopying.

    we decided at this time that we would forego the contribution considering that we had just paid almost $600 on stationary for our kids and $220 more on top was a little our of our reach, at this stage anyway.

    that was ok, we thought. Every month we received a letter from the school, with “invoice” at the top, “reminding” us of the “Voluntary Contribution” and “reminding” us that we have not yet paid it.

    by the time we got to the final term of the first year, the school had appointed a ‘collections officer’ whose main task was to seek out parents who had not paid the ‘voluntary contribution’ as I stood outside my youngest daughter’s class one afternoon waiting for her to finish, This lady appeared in the area outside her class with a sheet of paper, and read out a list of parents names. Asking if those parents were available. Some parents did announce their presence and this lady practically pounced on them and asked them publicly to explain why they hadn’t paid the ‘voluntary’ contribution. Some parents were extremely embarrassed of course, others got very defensive.

    We decided at that stage that amongst the average of 10 requests per month for donations of one thing or another (average of around $20 a month for 2 children) we were being essentially ‘forced’ into paying a ‘voluntary contribution’
    about 2 weeks before the end of the school year we got a letter from the school. It informed us that if we didn’t pay the ‘voluntary contribution’ that it would be sent to a collections agency for attention.

    Now, suddenly the ‘voluntary contribution’ was no longer ‘voluntary’ it was enough to warrant debt collectors being brought in.

    We had to contact the Queensland education and report the matter to them. We were told they had already received reports and would investigate and to ignore the demand for payment. It seems that this is not a widespread practice then, but do expect a “voluntary contribution’ request… and Don’t take the word “voluntary” in the literal sense.

    we then moved to NSW (for a number of reasons, not related to education).

    In NSW the system is slightly different. Rather than doing 12 years of school as in QLD, you actually do 13 Years of school, so my eldest child going into what would have been year 2 in QLD, had to go back to year one in NSW, even though it was classed as the equivalent of QLD’s year 2.

    We have noticed that schools in NSW don’t appear to be as ‘demanding’ as public schools in QLD, at least from our own personal experience. The list of stationary we were asked to purchase was not even 1/4 of that of QLD’s lists, and the school provided some stationary on top (as opposed to QLD where we had to provide our own printing paper also)

    My daughters are thriving in school here in NSW. The curriculum is very well structured, we feel they are learning things that at their age they should be learning, and the support seems to be there for them.

    Having just come back from a parent/teacher meeting a short while ago, I’ve discovered that both my daughters are at the top of their classes respectively. I am a happy (and proud) father. 🙂

    Of course all children are different and will learn at different rates. I feel that the NSW educational system is up there with the rest of the world, However, given that I am returning to Ireland with my family in the next few months, it will be interesting to see where the system over there is at with regards to what my daughters have learned here and how they will be taught.

    I can update this thread at that time and give a more balanced opinion then. 🙂

    • Leah April 11, 2013, 6:41 am | Link


    • Pauline September 9, 2013, 3:59 pm | Link

      Thanks Jon.

      This is really helpful opinion. Could you let me know which part of NSW your children are studying as I am planning a move to NSW too.

      Great thanks.


  • Mr Pastry March 15, 2010, 9:17 am | Link

    All depends if you go private or lucky enough to be in the catchment of a good state school. Australia has many equivalent run down London comprehensives just as it has expensive first rate private schools. Most are in between and similar to UK – not everyone goes to Eton and Harrow there. There are Red Brick Universities in Oz that are highly regarded internationally, but my personal observations is that Australian children, whatever the school, appear confident and fairly happy, it may be the sunshine but its as good a start as any certificate.

    • BobinOz March 16, 2010, 1:42 pm | Link

      Yes, I think that’s pretty much the same anywhere. I know that in England, some parents have even resorted to giving false addresses to place them in a different catchment area so their kids can go to a school with a better reputation. It is often down to the luck of the draw.

      We do now have the controversial my school website which publishes the supposed performances for all schools in Australia and you can click here to read my post about how to use myschool.

      And the sunshine just makes everything more pleasant, probably including school.

  • BobinOz March 5, 2010, 4:32 pm | Link

    Don’t laugh? HaHa! QBE – that’s great. Is that what’s called creative accounting?

    Not so sure UK/USA would be top of todays list of best worldwide professional qualifications – maybe 20 or 30 years ago. As for that drink, sorry, I only have Aussie dollars these days.

  • JOHN WILKES March 5, 2010, 10:23 am | Link

    Very interesting all those ‘State Qualifications’. Reminds me of the time when my cousins’ husband and his partners , who owned a couple of private hospitals in Melbourne , employed a new accountant . They were unhappy with his work so re-interviewed him and enquired what a Q.B.E. was ( they’d assumed at the original interview that it stood for a Queensland quaification – perhaps Queensland Board of Examiners ). No , it stood for ( don’t laugh ) Qualified By Experience . Just as well they hadn’t been employing a surgeon ! Maybe we should look at how professional qualifications stand-up Worldwide . I would say U.K. / U.S.A. equal top and the same when it comes to universities .
    One last thing , you promised me a drink when I am over there but I would be living in Victoria…..probably. So bearing that in mind , could you see your way to sending me the money instead , as I’d have more chance of getting ‘legless’ on it in the U.K. ‘CHEERS’

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