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The Australian curriculum - key facts

The Australian curriculum - key facts

Australian curriculum schools may make up a comparatively small part of the overall international schools market, but their geographical concentration means that in some areas they have a sizeable presence. Freelance journalist Nick Morrison provides us with the key facts...


Data from the International Schools Consultancy shows there are 112 international schools offering an Australian curriculum, the vast majority in South East Asia, with a particular cluster in Vietnam.

Most follow the Australian Curriculum, a relatively new national framework that has been introduced in stages since 2012, after decades of debate, and covers the Foundation year (age 5 to 6) through to Year 10 (age 15 to 16).

Even though the curriculum is just a few years old, a review found a number of teething problems and a revised version is now being phased in, with an adjustment period to allow schools to switch over.

The academic year varies between states but generally runs from January to December, with education compulsory from five to between 15 and 17, depending on the state. International schools will typically align themselves with the practice of a particular state.

Australian international schools also tend to follow their domestic counterparts in dividing the phases of education into primary, for children aged five to 12, and secondary, 12 to 18, although these are usually sub-divisions inside a single school, rather than separate schools.

The primary curriculum covers a broad range of subjects, with an emphasis on instilling literacy and numeracy skills.

Among the changes in the revised curriculum are a greater focus on learning phonics as part of English language teaching, and a humanities and social sciences area replacing separate strands of history, geography, civics and citizenship, economics and business.

The primary curriculum also includes personal development, health and physical education, as well as creative arts. Most international schools will also teach children the language of the host country at the primary stage.

The secondary years are often divided into a middle school (Years 7 to 10) and senior school (Years 11 and 12). In the middle secondary years, students continue with a broad-based curriculum, bolstered by a study of the home country’s language and history, before starting to specialise in Years 9 and 10.

At the end of Year 10, students will typically receive a Record of School Achievement (RoSA), a cumulative credential that they can add to until they leave school.

"A revised version of the new curriculum is now being phased in..."

In the senior secondary years, most Australian international schools offer the Higher School Certificate (HSC), a flexible route that allows students to specialise or follow a wider range of subjects to keep their options open. The only compulsory subject is English.

The HSC is assessed through a combination of teacher assessment and external examination, and is a recognised qualification for university entry. Many Australian international schools also offer the International Baccalaureate alongside the HSC.

All imagesThe Australian International School Malaysia 

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