Education concerns relocating families

Education is ranked among the top challenges for families relocated overseas by their companies.

The Brookfield 2012 Global Relocation Trends report placed children’s education as the third highest concern among relocating families.

This is closely linked to the second highest concern of ‘family adjustment’ and certainly a factor in the first highest concern which is ‘spouse/partner resistance’.

In fact, a recent article by Elizabeth Perelstein, chair of The School Choice Group, reported that many professionals are so stressed about the issue, they will not accept the assignment they have been asked to undertake if concerns about their children’s education are not successfully resolved.

One of the major difficulties for families coming to Australia is that our academic year is based on the calendar year rather than the September to June school year used in the northern hemisphere. This means that children moving to Australia are required to either jump ahead a semester or be held back a semester.

However, the benefits of moving to Australia are that our education system has a good international reputation, scoring well above average in international education league tables. Better still, a new national curriculum which began rolling out this year is expected to continue to raise standards in education.

In Australia, both government and private schools are available. Unlike in Europe and Asia, there are few specific international schools. However, a number of schools in Australia offer internationally recognised qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate (IB).

To help you choose a school, the Australian Government has a website, MySchool, to give parents transparent information on all Australian schools. The website also shows each school’s results for the country’s standard literacy and numeracy tests.

When it comes to senior students, the final school examinations varies from state to state. For example, in NSW senior students sit the Higher School Certificate (HSC) while in Victoria they sit the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). When choosing a school, it is important for parents to check that the Australian qualification will be recognised by tertiary institutions in their home countries should they wish to return.

Perelstein believes parents should consider all options when relocating overseas:

  • Keep an open mind and focus on your child’s strengths, weaknesses and interests rather than the school’s reputation.
  • If you have children of varying ages, consider schools which accommodate children from preschool to year 12.
  • Consider boarding schools in your home country.
  • Consider distance education – Harvard, MIT and Stanford University are among many educational institutions offering distance education for children, some as young as five.

Thankfully Grace Mobility can help take the stress out of relocating to Australia. Our mobility program is tailored to individual needs and can include a school search for families with children. We work with you to find a school that best meets your needs and, more importantly, the needs of your child.

Schooling in Australia – snapshot

  • Australia has more than 7000 government schools and 2000 independent schools.
  • The Australian school year is divided between 3 and 4 terms and runs from late January/early February to December with short breaks of approximately 2 weeks in between each term and a longer break over summer in December and January.
  • Students attend school five days a week from Monday to Friday.
  • School hours are generally from 9am-3.30pm.