Australia’s Education System: A Brief History 



The history of Australia’s education system is a long and complex one, dating back to the country’s earliest days as a British colony. 


The Aboriginal people are the first human inhabitants of Australia and are thought to have arrived from the Indonesian Archipelago as early as 30000 BC. Their teaching methods are an essential part of Australia’s history.


Aboriginal education was less formal than modern education and aimed to transmit the living culture to future generations. Aboriginal children were expected to learn four key things: knowledge of their social system and obligations, factual knowledge of their natural surroundings, development of skills for a vocation and a sound knowledge of the laws of their people.






The first schools in Australia were established in the late 18th century, and by the early 19th century, a system of state-funded schools had been established. However, education was still largely the preserve of the wealthy, as poor children were often required to work to support their families.


It wasn’t until the late 19th century that education began to be seen as a right for all children, regardless of their background or circumstances. This led to free, compulsory education for all children aged 6-14.


Since then, Australia’s education system has undergone several changes and reforms. Today, Australia’s education system is one of the best in the world. 




Australia’s Four-Stage Education System





Australia’s education system is world-renowned. It offers a broad range of quality educational opportunities, from early childhood education and cares to primary and secondary schooling, vocational education and training and world-class universities.



  • Early Childhood Education (Age: 4-5)

Kindergarten is the first stage of formal schooling in Australia. The goal is to teach kids to work with others, make friends, express their creativity, build communication skills, and the reading, writing and numeracy skills required to participate in later learning opportunities.



  • Primary Education (Age: 6-11)

Primary schools typically offer programs from Foundation (or Kindergarten) to Year 6. Primary education focuses on developing essential literacy, numeracy, intellectual and social-emotional skills. Students are also taught knowledge about the world around them.







  • Secondary Education (Age: 12-18)

In Australia, secondary school students study a curriculum that follows a national framework. This curriculum includes mathematics, science, history, languages, geography, the arts, health and physical education, information and communication technology, civics and citizenship, economics and business.

After completing high school, students take exams and receive a certificate that shows they have completed high school.



  • Tertiary Education

Higher education in Australia refers to any education beyond high school. This can include vocational education and training, as well as universities. Both of these types of institutions are regulated by different agencies.




Vocational Education and Training






VET is a system that is designed to help students transition into employment after they graduate. The system is a partnership between the Australian government, the state and industry. VET can help students get jobs more quickly after they graduate.

Vocational courses are those that prepare you for a specific trade or profession. Many of these courses include a period of on-the-job training and classroom or online learning. This allows students to gain real-world experience in their chosen field, making them more attractive to potential employers.



Alternative Education in Australia






There are many different types of alternative education in Australia. Homeschooling, distance education, bush schools, blended learning and adult education are all viable options for students and families who are looking for something different from the traditional school system.





Homeschooling is a popular alternative in Australia. Families who choose to homeschool their children do so for various reasons. Some families feel they can provide more tailored education to their children at home. Others choose to homeschool because they want their children to have a more independent learning experience. 



Distance Education


Distance education is another popular alternative in Australiab allows students to study from home at their own pace. This type of education is often used by students who cannot attend a traditional school or by families who want their children to have a more flexible learning experience. 



Bush Schools


Bush schools are a unique type of alternative education in Australia. Bush schools are typically small, rural schools offering hands-on, experiential learning experiences. Students at bush schools often learn about the environment and the Australian bush through firsthand experience. 



Blended Learning


Many educational institutions are considering blended learning, a combination of face-to-face and online learning, because of the outbreak of COVID-19. Blended learning has been growing in popularity in recent years and is expected to continue to grow in the next five years. Australian universities are currently piloting a program with Vietnamese universities to deliver blended transnational higher education.



Adult Education


Adult Learning Australia (ALA) is the national body representing adult and community education providers across Australia. ALA provides a range of services to its members, including advocacy, policy development, and professional support.





What Are the Education Policies in Australia?



Back in 2019, a new National School Reform Agreement came into effect. This new agreement will improve the quality of education for all students in Australia by setting high standards for teaching and learning and providing more resources to schools.


Core Education policies from the previous years include


  • The Australian government has established the Students First policy to improve the quality of the national curriculum, teaching methods, school autonomy and parental and community involvement in schools.


  • Australia has invested in early childhood education and care to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This will help strengthen performance and give all children a better start in life.


  • The National Partnership Agreement on Skills and Workforce Development has outlined goals for vocational education and training (VET) and ways to improve apprenticeships and increase the skills of students from low-income backgrounds.


  • The Australian government has set a goal to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in early childhood education to 95% by 2025 and to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 20-24 with a year 12 or equivalent qualification to 96% by 2031.


  • The National STEM School Education Strategy 2016–2026 is a plan created by Australian education ministers in 2015 to improve STEM education in Australia. 


  • The Safe Schools program in Australia is designed to help schools create an inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTI students. The program provides resources and training for school staff on supporting LGBTI students and also works to create more inclusive policies and practices within schools.






There are many reasons why the Australian education system is so successful. One of the main reasons is the high level of investment that the government makes in education. Another reason is the commitment of teachers and educators to providing a quality education for all students. Suppose you are thinking of studying in Australia. In that case, you can be sure that you will receive a world-class education.


Do you plan to study in Australia? StudyBird Australia is here to help. We are an international student support agency in Australia, willing to give you advice on the next steps you can take. Reach out to us today to learn more!