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8 Differences Between Aussie and American Schools

Australian and American flag blended together

Australia and the United States have many things in common, with a few twists. Both countries speak English but in very different ways. The same applies to education, where teaching approaches can vary. Here are some of the most prominent differences between schools in Australia and America:

1. Academic Grades are Different in the Two Countries

In the US, children go to elementary, middle, and then high school. In Australia, students go to primary and then grade school.
Grades 9 through 12 in Australia correspond with high school in the US.  Students complete their course credit and college entrance exam—the SATs—in year 11. The final year is mostly spent on preparations to enter college.

2. Homework is becoming Less Important in Australia

Both Australian and American schools dish out tons of assignment homework to students. While American high schools continue to demand some 3 to 4 hours of homework after classes, things are changing in Australia. Local schools in Australia are actually doing away with homework requirements.

It should be noted that this concept is not without controversy. However, Aussie parents are increasingly expressing doubts about homework. Teachers don’t care much for it either. And schools have experimentally dropped homework or drastically reduced the workload for students.

Homework is still considered to be a staple of student life in the US. It’s even thought that children pick up good values like responsibility from it. What’s more, well-performing kids can make money by helping others with assignments., You can see examples here at EssayOnTime. Apart from giving the brighter students an opportunity to help and earn some extra money, it also pulls forward any of the students that are lagging behind.

3. Australians Wear Uniforms, Americans Don’t.

One of the most significant differences between Australia and America in terms of education is that uniforms are common in Australian schools. Students in both private and public institutions wear uniforms in general. In the US, schools that require uniforms to be worn are rare. Uniforms are typically donned in private and/or religious-centered institutes like Catholic institutions.

Although some Aussie schools don’t require uniforms, of course, in the US, the norm is to wear casual clothing to school.

4. Patriotism is Expressed Differently

In America, students in public schools are required to stand when the national flag is hoisted and recite the pledge of allegiance. It’s an authoritative expectation. Failing to do so could even get students in trouble.

In a glaring America vs. Australia difference, the Aussies don’t demand students to give an oath of allegiance. The Australian national flag may or may not be hoisted in local schools. People don’t feel the need to display their patriotism in Austrailia. In fact, it is even frowned upon to inject rampant nationalist ideology on students.

5. Aussie Students Have Term Breaks, while American Students have a Summer Break

American students get one long holiday over the summer break mid-year. The educational system doesn’t have terms or holiday breaks in-between, like in Australia. Aussies have short holidays in between the four terms of the academic year. At the end of the year, there’s the usual 3-week Christmas break.

Americans don’t have holidays for Easter or Good Friday, so students are still required to attend classes. Despite the term breaks, the Australian academic year is longer, about 200 days. In America, it is about 175 days.

6. Two Different Approaches to Extra Curricular Activities

Both Australian and American schools offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities for students. In Australia, students can choose whatever they like. In the US, students are limited to two or three electives.

The overall approach to extracurricular activities is different in the two countries. Australian schools offer activities for free. Most American institutions, however, charge a fee for extracurricular activities. But this can vary between states and school districts.

Also, American educational institutions are less enthusiastic about arts-related activities compared to Australia. It’s difficult to find a school in Australia that doesn’t offer music lessons, for example. In America, curricula are moving away from art to focus more on STEM subjects.

7. Sports are Part of the Learning Process in Australia. In America, Sport is a Business.

Australian schools freely offer students sports lessons, since physical education is considered to be just as important as academics. Sports is a major subject in the US as well. But for different reasons.

Americans love competitive sports, especially in high school. Football (soccer) and baseball are the biggest sports in Australia. And there’s an entire business built around high school football games.

In Australia, teachers offer a “no cut” policy, where students compete against rival teams that match their skill level. This is not the case in America, where parents expect their kids to compete against the best of the best.

8. Australian Schools have High Standards across the Board. The Standards for American Schools Vary.

In America, the quality of education one receives depends on various factors. There are tens of thousands of academic institutions across the country, but only a few of these are actually good. In Australia, all schools are held to high standards.

The same goes for universities. The education in the US is largely a mixed bag where world-renowned institutions are mixed in with so-so schools. Australia doesn’t necessarily play the brand name game. But students are assured of an internationally-accepted, quality education regardless of the school they attend.

Overall, Aussie and American schools have different approaches to education. Australians have a “mind, body, and spirit” focus where children are educated in nearly all aspects of life. But in the US, education is geared towards getting into a good college.

However, the education system varies from place to place in America. So Australian parents who end up in the US will have a lot of choice when it comes to educating their children.

For more great topics on all things college, check out the other great blogs on College Basics.