The Australian and British Education Systems

Three or four years ago, I had a teenage rant in response to something on some expat forums, and it became my most successful post. I’m constantly getting comments and questions from people who, for some reason, think I’m an expert on education system comparison and want advice.

Some of the information on that post is now outdated, and most of it was unclear to begin with. It wasn’t meant to be an informative post, just a rant! The main point of the post was that the Australian and English systems are really very similar. One is not really better than the other (although a couple of rankings would say that the Australian system is actually better.

If you want to find out about the education systems or how the curriculum compares, the best thing to do would be to look at the curriculums for yourself.

If you want to compare a couple of schools, contact those schools directly.

Here is a table comparing the three systems (Australia, England/Wales/NI, and Scotland) in terms of school years, curriculum phases, certificates, and so on:


Click to enlarge, of course. And here are links for the curriculums themselves:

Australian National Curriculum

British National Curriculum

Scottish Curriculum for Excellence

Here are the links for the overseeing institutions:

Education Scotland / Foghlam Alba

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Here are some school comparison and finder sites:

The Good Schools Guide (UK)

The Good Schools Guide (Australia)

The Australian Schools Directory

My School (Australia)

And finally, here are the online educational games, support materials, and websites:

BBC Bitesize

Learning Scotland

ABC Splash

So, if you have a problem or a question:

Compare the curriculums, visit the school comparison sites, ask the schools.

If you really, for whatever strange reason, decide you want to ask my opinion on something I really have no right to have an opinion on, here’s what I’m going to say:

Australia, New Zealand, and all the UK are all well within the top 20 education systems in the world, and more than that, all the systems are fairly closely aligned from either years of contact or a similar origin.

In primary school, there’s really not going to be much difference between the countries – in fact, you’ll probably find more difference between two schools in the same country than between two schools in different countries. Your main problem’s probably going to be dealing with the different school years between the northern and southern hemispheres.

In high school or secondary school, it’s better to change sooner rather than later, so that you or your child can be settled into a school before beginning the leaving certificates, which do actually vary quite a bit in terms of composition and requirements between the three countries, and even within Australia.

In university, there’s more difference between Scotland and England than between either with Australia, but all three countries recognise high school qualifications from each of the others, and it really doesn’t matter if you’re a year or two older when you start.

And again, do your own research. Don’t rely on the opinion of a random not-still-a-teenager expat kid. Check with the curriculum authorities. Take a look at the curriculums yourself. Visit or phone the schools in question to get accurate information about that school. And use your own common sense.

Also, if you want to read about the problems of a bunch of other people who have considered moving from one system to another, as well as my replies to them, check out the original post.




Thought of the Day #12

[New Reception, upon arriving in Chapel and sitting down] “Is this where God lives, Mrs Rachel?”

[Me] “Well, it’s where we come to visit Him.”


[Another New Reception] “Wow, it’s a big building. And old! How old is it, Mrs Rachel?”

[Me] “I don’t know exactly. But it’s very old. You know, there’s a stone outside that says how old it is. Chaplain Paula might know. Chaplain Paula, do you know how old this building is?”

[Chaplain] “Very old. I would say at least more than a hundred years old.”

[New Reception #2] “Wow! How does it still standing up?”

[New Reception from previous quote] “Because this is where God is! He does it still standing up!”

[New Reception #2] “It must be really good built.”

A Quick Weekend Jaunt

Abair turas mor! What a long journey!

Sorry for the delay in another post (I know you’re all waiting with bated breath to see whether I actually got home or whether the ‘plane crashed somewhere perhaps over Mount Gambier), but for much of the latter half of last week I was completely incoherent with jet-lag, and for the last fifty hours, I’ve been in a car.

Well, I haven’t been in a car for all of it, but I have been for about twenty hours of it, which means I’ve spent just as long in a car this weekend as I did in an aeroplane last weekend. And didn’t get nearly as far.

It was entirely my fault, of course, as I didn’t have to go and I chose to.

And, unfortunately, I left my camera at home (again – this is becoming a habit) so I don’t have any pictures to share with you of the trip (the scenery isn’t nearly as exciting or rapidly-changing as in Israel). However, I may or may not be making the trip again in two or three weeks, so there may be pictures then.

What’s happening is that my sister is going to uni interstate (nearish Melbourne) this year, which is probably an 8-hour trip if you speed and don’t stop for food or the toilet. With the academic year starting in a few weeks, we went over this weekend to sus out student housing for her. And found a rather good houseshare, it has to be said, for all of the five daytime hours we spent at our destination.

That’s enough of cars for a while, I think.

Funnily enough, Adelaideans travelling to Melbourne for the weekend isn’t particularly remarkable. And I mean, it’s not like you live in Jerusalem and you’re going to Tel Aviv or Ber Sheva for the weekend (yes, I’m still comparing everything to Israel, as in Israel I was comparing everything to Australia). After all, the trip from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is probably about forty-five minutes in rush hour. It’s not even like you live in Glasgow and you’re going to London for the weekend – although it would probably take about as long by car, it’s not neatly as far.

I’ve been telling myself for a few years now that Australians drive distances, and no Australians bat an eyelid at it. We drove from Dallas to Iowa City and barely thought anything of it as we did it over three days – but the locals we mentioned it to were amazed! Then again, I had a conversation with a lady in a shop in Tiberia who was amazed that we’d come “all the way” from En Gev to visit her shop. That was about 16km as the bird flies (about 30km by road). Yeah, I literally go that far by road to do the weekly shopping. Although admittedly it would be only about 16km to my nearest supermarket.

But one of the people we spoke to near Melbourne thought we were crazy for driving that far for the weekend (it’s ten hours one way). “I’d fly!” he said. But flying’s more expensive. And more difficult to do at the last minute.

“We wouldn’t drive to Sydney for the weekend,” we told him, “That’s two days. But Melbourne – no-one thinks anything of it.”

Which is true. If you mention a weekend jaunt to Melbourne to someone in Adelaide, the most involved response you’ll get is, “Stop every two hours for a rest and don’t leave at 4am to get there at lunch time.”

The truth is, whenever there’s a football game involving one of our teams in Melbourne, thousands of Adelaideans leave on Friday night to drive to Melbourne for a Saturday night game and then drive back on a Sunday. The trip simply isn’t remarkable. The road is dead straight. You don’t even have to turn off at any point – just slow down now and then to go through the odd town.

That doesn’t make it any less wearing, though – although I do think I’ve conquered my jet-lag. That’s what I was hoping would happen with going along on the trip – exhausting days in the car and early mornings at motels near major freeways with thin curtains and no soundproofing. Eastward jetlag always hits me harder and the four nights I’d already had at home hadn’t seemed to have done anything to help it.

So, there you have it. Yes, I got home safely. Then I left again. Now I’m back. At some point, I’ll have to get myself sorted for uni.

Thought of the Day #6

Isn’t it funny, the songs or words you learn in different languages before you can understand them?

This morning, I woke up singing a song I learnt years ago, when my sister learnt it in the primary school choir, which had quite a boppy tune, and began:

Estoy solo (I’m alone)
llorando (crying)
en silencio (in silence)
en la oscuridad (in obscurity)

Samhradh agus Nollaig

Bha cùplan cèistean ann an seachdain a fhreagairt mi – cèistean mu dheidhinn earrach, samhradh, agus Nollaig. (Bha iongantas agam gun robh na topaicean seo còmhla ri chèile – tha Nollaig ann an geamhradh anns an Alba).

‘N uair a thig an t-earrach far a bheil thu-fhèin a’ fuireach, an tig na h-eòin a sheinn anns na craobhan? Dè nì thusa (agus daoine eile anns an àite far a bheil thu a’ fuireach) a h-uile bliadhna ‘n uair a thig an t-earrach?

Thig na eòin gu dearbh, ach ‘n uair a thug an t-earrach far a bheil mi-fhìn a’ fuireach, thug na còalas a dhean cobhart anns na craobhan cuideachd. H-uile bliadhna anns an earraich, bheir sinn piosan fioghar agus duilleagan agus ruideigin eile às an talamh. Feum iad loisg nas furasda, mura bhios tèin ann. ‘S e “fire-proofing” a th’ air.

‘N uair a thig an samhradh, am faic sibh a’ ghrian a h-uile latha? An tig na cuileagan agus an dèan daoine snàmh a-muigh? ‘N uair a thig na làithean blàtha, dè nì thu-fhèin agus dè nì daoine eile?

Chi sinn a’ ghrian gach latha gu dearbh! ‘N uair a thig an samhradh, cha bhi uisge ann idir, chì sinn a’ ghrian a h-uile latha, agus bidh mi loisgailte leis a’ ghrian mura thig mi a-mach ach deich mionaidean! Thig na cuileagan agus na mòsaidhean*.

Nì sinn snàmh gu dearbh! Anns an earrach, ‘n uair a bhios uisge ann, snàmh sinn anns an loch, ach anns an t-samhradh, snàmh sinn aig an tràigh. ‘N uair a bhios làithean nas blàithe ann, fosgailtidh sinn an doras agus na h-uinneagan agus cuiridh sinn plaidean anns na h-uinneagan agus fosgailtidh sinn an solas agus ithidh sinn meall-bhucan. A-nis ‘is a-rithist, ‘n uair a bhios an latha uabhasach blàth, tèid sinn dhan thaigh-dealbh, far a bheil uidheam-fhuarachaidh math ann!

* tairbheannan-bìdeadh; ‘s e “creathlag innseanach” a th’ air anns a’ Ghàidhlig Alba.

A bheil duine sam bith a’ fuireach còmhla riut a bhios an dùil, ‘n uair a thig an geamhradh am-bliadhna, gun tig Bodach na Nollaige?

Tha mi a’ smaoineachadh gu bheil m’ athair an dùil, ‘n uair a thig an t-samhradh am-bliadhna, gun tig Bodach na Nollaige. Ach ‘s coma le mo phiuthir ‘is mise, agus cha bhi stocainn aig ar athair!

Am faigh thu-fhèin toidhlac aig an Nollaig? Cò bheir todhlac dhuit? Saoil dè gheibh thu? Agus an toir thu-fhèin thiodhlac Nollaige do chuideigin? Ma nì thu sin, cò dha a bheir thu tiodhlac? Dè bheir thu dha/dhi/dhaibh? Cuin’ a bheir sibh tiodhlacan dha chèile anns an teaghlach agadsa? ‘S docha nach dèan an teaghlach agadsa sin idir, agus gun dèan sibh rudeigin eile. Dè nì sibhse?

Gheibh mi-fhìn tiodhlac aig an Nollaig. Bheir mo phàrantain ‘is mo phuithir tiodhlac dhòmh. Bu toigh leam baga ùr a gheibh am bliadhna. Tèid mi dhan dùthaich eile ann am Faoilleach agus tha mo bhaga sean agus briste.

Bheir mise tiodhlacan Nollaige do mo mhathair, m’ athair, mo phuithir agus mo sheanair. Bheir mi leabhar do mo sheanair agus Lego Doctor Who do mo phuithir (tha mi a’ smaoineachadh, co-dhiugh!). Bheir sinn na tiodhlacan dha chèile an dèidh dìnnear Latha na Nollaige. Tèid sinn dhan eaglais madainn nan Nollaig, agus ‘s docha gun tèid sinn dhan tràigh Latha Bhocsaidh*.

* an latha an dèidh Latha nan Nollaig.


The Year In (Book) Review

Here are some of the books I’ve read this year (mostly for uni), and some recommendations and thoughts about them.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible (Max Anders)30 Days to Understanding the Bible

Author: Max Anders

Subject: Old Testament Survey

Review: Altogether, I think this book would be much better used for a preteen or teenage Sunday school class. It’s divided into several short lessons with exercises, but working through it at home was a little dragging. There’s nothing wrong with the book itself, and certainly I’d recommend it for a homeschooler or Sunday school teacher, but it simply wasn’t suited for my class.

A Spectator's Guide to World Views (Simon Smart) A Spectator’s Guide to World Views

Author: Simon Smart

Subject: Introduction to Worldviews

Review: While this book provided a quick overview of the most common worldviews found in urban Australia, it was a little limited in two ways:

(1) Aside from a few more postmodern worldviews like relativism and neopaganism, all of the worldviews presented were very modernist. While I understand that it was trying to present the worldviews we’re most likely to encounter in Australia, we have such a diverse population here that we should have heard more about some other worldviews like Islam and Asian religions. Not to mention Dreaming.

(2) All of the worldviews were presented from the Christian standpoint. In cases like these, I always feel it’s better to learn about a religion or worldview on its own terms, and so was disappointed that the worldviews weren’t presented by people who hold to it themselves.

That aside, the book was written in an engaging manner, and I would certainly recommend it for any Christian looking for a better understanding of how those around him see the world. (Which, frankly, should be every Christian).

Basics of Biblical Greek (Mounce) Basics of Biblical Greek

Author: William Mounce

Subject: Greek Grammar

Review: What is there to say about a grammar textbook, really? The only thing of interest to note I have already mentioned, namely The Professor. Aside from that, I have too remaining comments: very American (in the English explanations and some of the things The Professor says, as well as the audio files for the vocab words!), and verbs are probably left a little too late.

Basics of Biblical Hebrew (Pratico & Van Pelt) Basics of Biblical Hebrew

Author: Gary Pratico & Miles Van Pelt

Subject: Hebrew Grammar

Review: There is not Professor in this one. I found the explanations a little longwinded and confusing. During the first term, I’d come home and compress the entire ten-page chapter down to about one page of notes just to understand it. Each chapter ends with an exegetical insight, usually a journal article of some sort, which (mostly) related to what we had learnt and which were quite fascinating.

Everyday Theology (Vanhoozer, Anderson & Sleasman)Everyday Theology

Author: Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles Anderson & Michael Sleasman

Subject: Christianity and Culture

Review: The first sixty pages (explaining the book) drag so badly! But once you’ve tortured yourself by pushing through that bit, the rest of the book is fun and engaging, and easy to dip in and out of as the article titles interest you. Each chapter looks at a cultural trend or an aspect of culture/life, the messages it presents, what the Bible says about these, and a few suggestions for how Christians should react.

Invitation to Biblical Preaching (Sunukjian) Invitation to Biblical Preaching

Author: Donald Sunukjian

Subject: Introduction to Preaching

Review: While I didn’t necessarily agree with everything he said, in his sermon examples and sometimes to do with how to relate to/ present things to an audience (mostly because I think some things would work with American audiences but not with Australian ones), I do think this book (or similar) is something every lay preacher should read. Actually, the entire exegesis and preaching stream should be undertaken by just about every Christian, in my opinion. If lay preachers learnt to exegete properly, their sermons would be a lot more sounds. But nevertheless, a fairly well-written and engaging book.

Living by the Book (Hendricks) Living by the Book

Author: Howard & William Hendricks

Subject: Bible Study & Exegesis

Review: This one is about Bible study. Certainly I’d recommend this for every Christian as it teaches observation, exegesis, and interpretation. It would probably cut down on the number of cults around if every Christian had a sound grounding in how to read the Bible in its own context. That all said, and while the book is great, with many good suggestions and a few illustrations, in some ways I think it needs to be updated for the modern world.

The New Christian Traveller's Guide to the Holy Land (Dyer & Hatteberg) The New Christian Traveller’s Guide to the Holy Land

Author: Charles Dyer & Gregory Hutteberg

Subject: Israel Trip for Credit

Review: Perhaps this one would be better titled “The American Christian Traveller’s Guide to the Holy Land”. The second part of the book, which lists many major tourist sites along with some basic information and Bible references, is very good and useful and I think I will use it a lot in January. The first part of the book, however, seems to be basically aimed to someone who’s never travelled before. An American someone who’s never travelled before. It’s all about aeroplanes and visas and jet-lag and currency exchange. You learn about how power-points are different in different countries, and how you’ll be travelling about six hours forward in time. Average temperatures are given for Israel, but all in Fahrenheit. The book could certainly stand to either become a little more international or insert another word into its title.

A Reader's Hebrew and Greek Bible (GOD) A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible

Author: God (and various)

Subject: Life

Review: As anyone who’s been to church or a Bible study group with me recently knows, this is going everywhere with me. It’s got the Greek New Testament in the front and the Hebrew Old Testament in the back, without all the footnotes and sidenotes of the BHS. Words which occur less than thirty time are footnoted with the English translation. My only complaint is that the Hebrew Bible is ordered differently to the English one, so I keep having to go to the contents page to find the book I’m looking for!

The New King James Bible (GOD) The New King James Bible

Author: God (and various, plus translators)

Subject: Everything

Review: It’s really quite hard to tell one Bible from another when looking for a thumbnail picture to display, but that’s roughly the same colour as mine, anyway. New Testament Survey and Old Testament Survey both required copious amounts of reading from the Bible each week, but naturally I used it in just about every other subject, as well.

A Simple Song (Melody Carlson) A Simple Song

Author: Melody Carlson

Subject: gratuitous light reading material

Review: It’s beyond cheesy, but it has a good message at the end. A young Amish girl enters American Idol to raise money for her father’s medical treatment, and along the way discovers the life her grandmother led for a few years as a young woman as a famous folk singer. Without giving away the ending, it’s a book about how family, faith, and sticking to one’s values are more important than fame and money.