Navigating Year 11 and 12 in Australia
Year 11 and 12 in Australia is known as ‘Senior Secondary School’ (or Stage 6). These senior study years serve an important foundation for tertiary education or future career pathways.
Many students and parents worry about the pressure of Year 11 and 12 in Australia. However, senior years at school provide many opportunities for your child to experience fun and balance their wellbeing.
Understanding Year 11 and 12 in Australia
What is the difference between Year 11 and 12 in Australia
It often feels like Year 11 and 12 in Australia are grouped together as your child usually has the same teachers and classes.
In NSW, Year 11 (or Preliminary) courses and marks do not form part of your child’s final ATAR. In Victoria, some but not all VCE VET units provide a study score contributing to their ATAR.
This is different for students who choose to pursue the International Baccalaureate, which counts both year 11 and 12.
To graduate high school and receive a Higher School Certificate (HSC) or Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), students must successfully complete the requirements for both Year 11 and 12.
What should my child be doing in Year 11 and 12?
Navigating year 11 and 12 in Australia can be overwhelming for students.
Your child may be struggling with:
Choosing their subjects
Choosing subjects for year 11 and 12 can be a daunting family decision. A great starting point is to determine what your child’s plan is after high school.
In Victoria, education changes are replacing the VCE Vocational Major with the VCAL from 2023. This is easier for students who are unsure of their pathway as students can pursue any learning option under one certificate. In NSW, students may wish to consider whether they wish to pursue a trade or TAFE study as part of their senior study or instead of completing year 11 and 12.
If your child is interested in pursuing further education, help them narrow down specific courses. Your child can choose year 11 and 12 subjects according to the prerequisites for university courses they are interested in.
For a guide to choosing HSC subjects, visit here.
Determining extracurricular options
Similar to choosing HSC subjects, having an idea for a potential career path will help your child find relevant extracurricular options at school or in the community.
For example, if your child is interested in medicine or nursing, they may wish to volunteer at the local hospital. If your child is interested in a humanitarian career they may benefit from joining school clubs or attending school networking events.
Rena Tang, Meriden Head Prefect for 2021 and HSC all-round achiever said “Balancing a study schedule with other cocurricular activities was especially necessary in Year 12, as maintaining cocurricular activities was a way to unwind during the school week.”
Balancing their study and wellbeing
Year 11 and 12 in Australia can be an intense period of study and homework for your child.
Don’t worry, you’re nearly there!
Battling exam stress is common among Australian adolescents.
To help your child deal with exam stress:
Create an appropriate study space
Assist them with their time management
Ensure they take lots of study breaks
Try your best to make nutritious study snacks and meals
Rena also chose to sit with friends at recess and lunch instead of studying alone, and rewarded her hard work with Friday night TV shows in order to stay motivated throughout the year.
“Your focus should be taking one day at a time. This is how I got rid of unnecessary anxiety and focused on what I could do in the moment,” said Rena.
Remind your child that senior years in high school can be lots of fun!
Fun school events often take place during Year 11 and 12 in Australia.
Amongst the chaos and study your child will be able to attend event(s) such as formal, graduation, awards ceremonies and other events to commemorate their years in high school.
Choosing a school for your child can be difficult, if you wish to receive further information please see Choosing a School NSW 37 or Choosing a School VIC 34.
News & Advice
De La Salle College Year 11 VCAL Students ‘Shave Dave’
As part of the Year 11 and 12 VCAL Social Justice Project, Year 11 VCAL students at De La Salle College, Malvern developed a fundraising event that would raise funds for Breast Cancer Network Australia.
On Thursday 19 May, a large group of Kinnoull and some lucky Tiverton students gathered to witness VCAL Assistant, Dave Murray, shave off his iconic moustache and beard.
The event was in honour of Dave’s wife’s battle 7 years ago and anyone who has suffered or is suffering from Breast Cancer. The aim was to raise awareness and funds for the Breast Cancer Network Australia.
Students described the event as “Pink ribbons adorned the pillars outside the reception area and there were pink balloons as far as the eye could see. The atmosphere was electric, and the energy of the crowd was supportive and loving.”
All VCAL students’ names were put into a hat for the opportunity to be in charge of the shave. Much to Dave’s relief, Year 11 student Tali Bernardi, was chosen and did a fantastic job of carefully shaving off Dave’s beard. A huge roar from the crowd was heard as the final whisker was taken off.
Over $4700 has been raised so far from proceeds of the raffle, food and drink sales on the day and from the generous donations of staff, students, families and friends. Dave and the VCAL student body are extremely grateful for all the fantastic support received.
The Year 11 VCAL students send a huge thank you to the Director Learning & Development ‑ Professional Learning, Jodie McLaren, for all the work she put into the smooth running of the event.
57 people are diagnosed with Breast Cancer each day in Australia and each of us sadly know someone who is or has been affected by this disease. Dave has shown compassion, courage and commitment and as students we have found this inspiring. We commend him for his actions and hope we have helped educate the College community on the support needed for those suffering from this disease.
Year 11 VCAL students, De La Salle College, Malvern
|Years||Year 5 - Year 12|
|Enrolment||1,100 from Years 5 to 12.|
|Fees||Annual tuition fees range from : $9,500 - $12,500|
03 9508******* 03 9508 2100
|Address||1318 High Street, Malvern 3144|
News & Advice
What does my child’s report card mean?
Australian parents receive report cards to measure their child’s learning progress. Report cards often cover different areas including your child’s academic achievement, social behaviour, attitude and effort in the classroom.
Your child’s report card may have a grading system or vague language that is difficult to understand.
What does my child’s report card mean?
What your child’s report card looks like
In Australia, your child’s report card will usually contain a five-point letter grading system.
The most common grading system is from A to E, however independent schools and different states may have a varied approach.
Dr Selina Samuels, Chief Learning Officer at Cluey Learning, provides an insight into what each grade means.
What if my child receives an ‘A’ on their report card?
Dr Samuels explains that receiving an ‘A’ is often an indicator the student is highly advanced.
She notes some words often associated with an ‘A’ may be along the lines of ‘excellent’ or ‘sophisticated’, depending on the words that are used in the context of the subject area.
What if my child receives a ‘B’ on their report card?
Students who receive a ‘B’ are generally defined as ‘competent’.
What if my child receives a ‘C’ on their report card?
A ‘C’ grade is often in the middle and is ‘satisfactory’.
“‘C’ is a passing mark. It is the baseline for ‘passing’ marks. Often people assume that C is not a passing mark but it is satisfactory.”
What if my child receives a ‘D’ or ‘E’ on their report card?
Dr Samuels notes that ‘D’ and ‘E’ are failing grades.
If your child receives a ‘D’, that is often noted as unsatisfactory.
If your child receives an ‘E’ this indicates your child has put in virtually no effort or participation. Teachers provide an ‘E’ grade where there is very little work to provide a mark for.
Teachers often assign grades using a clear criteria based on a definition of the quality of work.
Dr Samuels highlights, “They are not designed to be comparative. ‘A’s’ can all look different from one another but they could all be ‘A’s’.”
What do the comments on my child’s report card mean?
Teachers may be writing hundreds of report cards, and can often provide vague or broad comments.
Dr Samuels decodes key terminology that teachers often use in report cards:
‘Restless’ or ‘disruptive’ or ‘distracting’
She notes that these key phrases could suggest that your child is ‘not being fully extended.’
“They may actually be more able than their grades indicate.”
‘Inconsistency’ or ‘difficulties adjusting to rules’
Language along these lines may indicate that your child is having behavioural difficulties in class.
“Being naughty is often marking something else that is going on which is an academic problem.”
Dr Samuels tells School Choice that a teacher calling your child a ‘perfectionist’ is not necessarily a good thing.
“It may be a sign that they are actually too worried or anxious about the quality of their work and this is something that should be addressed early.”
The phrase ‘social’ may indicate that your child is talking and socialising too much during class time.
Positive comments in a report card
Positive phrases in your child’s report card are a good sign for their learning progress.
These commonly include:
‘Skills are secure’
‘Pleasure to work with’
What if I don’t understand the teacher’s comments in my child’s report card?
It may indicate an issue with your child’s learning if you are not understanding the teacher’s comments in the report.
“If you can’t understand the comment that has been written by the teacher, often I would say that the teacher doesn’t really want to tell you something.”
If you are having issues understanding any aspect of the report card, contact your child’s teacher or school to discuss this.
“If they are saying something that you don’t understand, it may be something that you need to talk to them about that they don’t want to say in a report.” says Dr Samuels.
Are the comments in my child’s report card important?
When understanding what your child’s report card means, you should balance the grades and comments.
“This is something that we do very poorly, we just assume that a student that is not doing well isn’t bright or isn’t more able.”
Dr Samuels suggests parents to focus on effort when understanding their child’s report card.
“If you can really see a big discrepancy between the effort they’ve put in and their marks, they probably need greater support.”
See if your child’s report card includes effort ratings or speak to their teacher to see if they are trying to engage with the content.
“If a child is getting really high effort but low academic grades, that’s a sign that there’s probably a need for more support and that’s where getting additional support like tutoring is a really good idea.
Students which are getting high academic marks and low effort ratings, equally probably need to be extended. They probably need to be offered more challenges.”
What to do after receiving your child’s report card
1. Discuss your child’s report card with them
Teachers do expect parents to discuss their child’s report with their son or daughter.
Look at your child’s results with them and discuss whether it is what they were expecting.
If your child is understanding their results, they may have an understanding on how to improve.
If your child is not performing well academically and is unsure how to improve you may need to consider extra support.
If your child’s report card is different to what they were expecting, you may need to contact the school. Have a discussion with their teacher to determine if their results accurately reflect your child’s effort and engagement.
Contact their teacher
It is a great idea to speak to your child’s teacher to understand your child’s report card.
“I think it’s very important to work in conjunction with the teacher, with the tutor, with the student to make sure you’re working together to the same end.”
Dr Samuels suggests some questions for parents to ask their child’s teacher:
“How can I, as a parent, talk to you as a teacher to support my child?”
This question creates a sense of partnership between you and the teacher. It is important for parents to work with teachers when getting involved with their child’s school.
“I really want to understand better how to support my child.”
If your child’s teacher suggests they have ‘potential’, it is a great opportunity to work closely with them to improve your child’s learning.
Don’t give them a hard time
If your child’s report card is not as good as you expected it is important to take steps to support them.
See here what to do if your child receives disappointing results.
“Reports shouldn’t be an area of conflict between a child and parent.”
Should you use your child’s report card to measure their effort, so for example telling them ‘next report card do better?’
Dr Samuels responds,
“Only if it’s a reasonable expectation on the part of the parent. If you have a child who is really struggling in a subject area and is really finding it hard, telling them that they have to do better next time or they won’t get some reward is actually counterproductive because you need to support them in doing better not incentivise them in a binary way.
I think it’s more important for parents to think about… what sort of additional support does my child need, what can I do to help them to get better…, not just it’s on you mate you’ve got to do better, it depends on the child.
In some cases, we all know kids who could do better but really can’t be bothered. Then incentivising improvement might work. But in most cases kids actually want to do better and they would do better if they could, so you’ve actually got to look at how they can be supported.”
News & Advice
Getting involved with your child’s school
Getting involved with your child’s school and teachers can assist with their learning. Creating a strong partnership with your child’s school may encourage student growth, performance and participation. Parental involvement at school also improves teacher performance.
Facilitating a supportive environment at home and school helps your child achieve academically .
What is parental engagement at school?
Parental engagement at school is collaboration between parents and teachers to help achieve your child’s educational goals.
Teachers can advise parents on information about their child at school. Similarly, parents can provide a perspective about their child that teachers are unaware of.
By sharing this information and responsibility, parents and teachers can work together to enrich their child’s school experience.
Why is parental involvement at school important?
Parental involvement at your child’s school supports their academic achievement and wellbeing.
Research reveals a strong link between parental involvement at school, academic achievement and attendance. Parental involvement also boosts your child’s self-esteem.
“It is a well-researched fact that when schools and families work together, there is greater student academic and social success. Plus, life is just more fun when like-minded people work in teams for a great cause – our kids!”
Mrs Jo Hutchens, Director of Advancement, Arden Anglican School
Getting involved with your child’s school also encourages teachers and boosts morale. With more insight, teachers can create lesson plans that better fit your students’ needs. Schools also benefit from parent participation at the school and for school events.
How can I get involved in my child’s school?
Volunteering at school
Volunteering is the best way of getting involved with your child’s school.
Schools often provide opportunities for parents to help organise or chaperone school events or excursions. Parents can also usually volunteer for school facilities including the canteen or library.
Arden Anglican School in Beecroft and Epping has encouraged parent engagement in school life for the last 100 years. From the earliest days, Arden promoted the importance of parents being involved on campus to help create a vibrant school culture and this remains in place as Arden celebrates its Centenary in 2022.
“We developed our parent volunteer network with the key objective of working in a year group team to foster friendship and support amongst our families.”
Mrs Jo Hutchens explains, The Arden Parent Network is seen as an extension to the school’s wellbeing program and encourages social gatherings in year groups, involvement in key school events, classroom assistance and welcoming new families.
Joining the Parents and Citizens’ Association (‘P&C’) at school allows parents to take on a more formal role in assisting the school and providing feedback to enhance student learning.
Communicate with the school and teachers
Having a communication stream with your child’s teachers is a good way to get involved with your child’s school.
Communicating with the school can allow parents to:
Suggest learning opportunities by sharing your child’s strengths and weaknesses
Discover extracurricular opportunities related to your child’s interests and strengths
Feel more comfortable raising concerns about their child’s learning
Understand what their child is learning
Know about any important upcoming events
Give teachers an understanding of any personal circumstances your child is experiencing at home
You may wish to set up meetings with school staff or your child’s teachers to provide or seek an update on your child’s learning.
Stay up to date with the school
Schools often provide digital tools to help families stay involved with their child’s school.
If you are not sure, ask the school if they have any of the following:
School email subscription
Any apps or website for weekly news
Google classroom or other online parent portal
School calendar for the term
However, offering your time and support as a community member is ultimately the best way of getting involved with your child’s school.
Help your child out at home
Being engaged in your child’s school also includes support at home.
Getting involved with your child’s homework or projects at home will lead to better motivation, behaviour and grades.
Some ideas to get involved at home include:
Helping your child with their homework or assignments
Read books in front of your child and try to encourage them to read
Create fun DIY learning opportunities at home
Help your child study – ask them if you can read their flashcards or help them practice
Play educational games at home – this may include games such as Lego, scrabble or monopoly
If you are unsure of how to contribute to your child’s education at home, ask the teacher what they suggest for your child.
News & Advice
International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international educational foundation founded in 1968. IB education is academically rigorous, challenging students aged 3 to 19 years old.
To learn more about what IB is, and the difference between HSC and IB visit here.
Different levels of International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools
Australia has 212 IB World Schools which offer ‘PYP’, ‘MYP’ or ‘DP’ alone or in combination.
What is PYP, MYP, Diploma (DP)?
‘PYP’ is the Primary Years Programme introduced in 1997. It is the first of four IB programmes.
The PYP is suited to students aged 3 to 12 years old.
As a Primary Years Programme (PYP) school, inquiry is the leading pedagogical approach of the PYP and recognises students as being active participants in their own learning therefore taking responsibility for that learning. Drawing from the transdisciplinary themes and students’ interests, inquiry is an authentic way for students to relate to, explore and understand the world around them, adapting a global mindset. The learner profile supports students in becoming “inquirers”. Inquiry nurtures curiosity and promotes enthusiasm for life-long learning where connections are made between personal experiences to local and global opportunities and challenges.
Ms Yvonne Howard, Deputy Head of Barker Junior School, Barker College, Sydney.
Students gain a conceptual understanding through an inquiry-based, transdisciplinary curriculum framework.
According to the International Baccalaureate Organisation, PYP learners actively engage in ongoing assessment to become ‘self-regulated learners who can act on constructive feedback.
Students as ‘inquirers’ exercise skills and knowledge from 6 subject areas. All PYP students also have the opportunity to learn more than one language from the age of 7.
Schools must be authorised to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP).
What is the difference between PYP and NESA?
The PYP is not separate from the NSW Education Standards Authority (‘NESA’).
The PYP inquiry learning framework is used to achieve NESA outcomes.
Student development is met through an inquiry–based curriculum.
‘MYP’ is the Middle Years Programme designed for students aged 11 to 16.
The MYP framework aims to prepare students for the DP. It consists of 8 subject groups including:
Language and literature
Individuals and societies
Sciences including biology, chemistry and physics
Physical and health education
Students learn a minimum of 50 hours for each subject group every year.
“The IB Middle Years Programme encourages students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world, preparing them for success in further study and in life.”
International Baccalaureate Organisation, <https://www.ibo.org/programmes/middle-years-programme/what-is-the-myp/>.
Like the PYP, the MYP framework also integrates with local education standards.
Students participating in the MYP have demonstrated a developed understanding of global challenges and a commitment to act as responsible citizens.
The final program of the International Baccalaureate is the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (‘IBDP’).
The IBDP is recognised by leading universities across the world. This portion of the programme is suited to students aged 16 to 19.
The IBDP Curriculum is covered over both senior years (Year 11 and 12). To learn more about the curriculum structure of IB in the senior years, visit here.
The IBDP in Australia is an alternative to the HSC.
To learn more about how the final mark compares to the HSC ATAR, visit here.
Results from International Baccalaureate (IB) in Australian Schools
MLC School in Sydney was named Australia’s top IB School in 2020 and 2021. The school is also a Top 50 IB School on the global scale.
Linda Emms, Head of Learning and Teaching at MLC School notes, “2022 marks 20 years since the first cohort of MLC School students graduated with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. From a small group of seven IB students in 2002; which was less than 5% of the cohort; MLC School’s IB Program has gone from strength to strength.”
“Last year 49 students sat the IB exams, representing 37% of the Class of 2021. Twelve of those IB candidates achieved the maximum score of 45 (an ATAR of 99.95). This the highest number of maximum scores awarded to a school in Australia in IB history, but it is important to note that worldwide, only 1.1% of the IB candidature in the November 2021 examination session were awarded the perfect score.”
Choosing an IB School
Does my child need to do all parts of the International Baccalaureate Programme?
The IB Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme is not mandatory for students who wish to undergo the IBDP.
However, these programs do introduce the knowledge, skills and attitude to prepare students for the IBDP.
If your child is considering the IBDP, you may wish to consider whether they would benefit from an IB education from their beginning years of school.
News & Advice
A Re-imagined Sports Program for De La Salle College, Malvern
De La Salle College recently launched a sports initiative which is the first stage of a longer-term strategic plan to promote and enhance a broad range of sports and other co-curricular pursuits at the College.
Stage one is to provide students with an aspirational Australian Football League (AFL) program. Australian Rules is the sport of choice for many students and Old Collegians, and building a strong and resilient football program remains a key priority. Alongside our strong relationship with De La Salle Old Collegians Amateur Football Club, the College is developing a football program / pathway for Years 5 – 12 which reinvigorates the College’s strong football tradition.
This year, we announced Michael Barlow (former Fremantle and Gold Coast player) as our AFL Senior Coach, coaching the First XVIII team. Michael will also work with the Kennedy Club for Year 7 – 9 footballers, as part of our High Performance Sports Program. In another coup for the College, Richmond and GWS legend, Brett Deledio, will be assisting Michael and Andrew Raines (former Richmond, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns player) from One on One Football will facilitate our AFL pathways program.
The new sports program complements the College’s High Performance Sports Program. Launched in 2021, the High Performance Sports Program coaches students interested in football, soccer, basketball, cricket, swimming and athletics. Students nominate themselves to join this program aiming to improve their skills, learn from sports professionals and experience high performance training.
Our Year 5 and 6 students participate in the Dendy Sports Competition which is an interschool sports competition beginning in Term 2 with Lighting Premierships against other Catholic Primary Schools. Sports include AFL, netball, soccer, basketball, cricket, district cross country championships and athletics. Our Primary students gain experience in sports competitions prior to being eligible to try out for an Associated Catholic Colleges (ACC) team from Year 7 – 12.
ACC Sport has a strong tradition at De La Salle College. The College is part of a group of 13 Catholic Secondary Schools which compete in weekly sports fixtures and three major carnivals; athletics, swimming and cross country. ACC programs also include debating, art and technology exhibitions and music performances.
At the 2022 ACC Swimming Carnival, Ryo Hayashi (Year 11) broke the ACC U16 50m butterfly record which was previously held by a Whitefriars College student in 2010. Ryo is a stand-out swimmer and competes across the country in various swimming meets including the Australian Age Championships (Nationals). He is a valuable member of our Torpedoes swimming squad which trains at Harold Holt Swim Centre. The swim centre is a convenient short walk from our Tiverton and Kinnoull Campuses.
Our strong sports program and strategic approach, complements classroom learning, wellbeing support and the variety of co-curricular programs on offer. There is a pathway for each student from Year 5 to Year 12, at De La Salle, Malvern.
|Years||Year 5 - Year 12|
|Enrolment||1,100 from Years 5 to 12.|
|Fees||Annual tuition fees range from : $9,500 - $12,500|
03 9508******* 03 9508 2100
|Address||1318 High Street, Malvern 3144|
News & Advice
5 Private School Trends in Australia
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there has been an increase in growth in Independent private schools over the past 5 years.
As more parents are sending their children to private schools, there have been 5 private school trends in Australia that enhance student learning.
5 Private School Trends in Australia
1. Science and Technology in Private Schools
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (‘STEM’) skills are becoming crucial for Australia’s changing future.
Technological change is said to advance Australia’s economy. Research shows that STEM jobs in Australia are growing nearly twice as fast as other jobs.
Consequently STEM is a big area of study being emphasised in private schools.
Many private schools introduce opportunities through STEM extracurricular activities or subjects from the very beginning of high school.
In STEM we endeavour to provide a balanced mix of activities that does not only cover the intended curriculum, but also enriches it. For example, we offer coding for Years 7-10 that involves Python programming and CAS calculator TI-Nspire-based programming (which connects to a ‘rover’ that moves). This prepares younger students to understand the ‘tech-active’ component of VCE Mathematics.
Mr Louis Diamandikos, Head of STEM, Alphington Grammar School.
This is important as the Department of Education, Skills and Employment Australia believes many Australian students don’t understand the importance of STEM ‘until it’s too late’.
Practising STEM from school years allows children to develop workplace skills including critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving.
Many private schools in Australia have advanced STEM facilities available to students.
We are also very fortunate to be using our brand-new STEM labs, which feature state-of-the-art and easy-to-access modern equipment, such as interactive whiteboards and modern electronic safety features. Our enrolment numbers in VCE Sciences have been steady, and we hope that the increased enrolment numbers at junior level will filter into stronger VCE subject enrolments in the coming years.
Mr Louis Diamandikos, Head of STEM, Alphington Grammar School.
Meriden School in NSW is also characterised by its opportunity for girls to grow in the STEM field.
From robotics and coding to 3-D printing and design, we provide opportunities for real-world problem-solving, exposure to inspiring mentors, access to the latest technology and a cohesive approach to STEM-related skill development.
Ms Ingrid Schwartz, Design and STEM Teacher, Coordinator of Learning Link – STEM, Meriden.
Their facilities include STEM learning centres which include 3D printers, virtual reality, coding and robotics technologies and a CDC machine.
2. Mental Health and Wellbeing in Private Schools
Mental health and student wellbeing is important among Australian young people.
A Headspace report revealed approximately 1 in 3 young people experienced high levels of psychological distress during the peak COVID-19 pandemic.
Private schools are increasingly incorporating education and facilities to provide opportunity for student support.
Ms Deirdre Grealish, Deputy Head of Secondary at Alphington Grammar School explains wellbeing is at the heart of their school.
“Our Exceptionality team (Head of Secondary, Deputy Head of Secondary, Heads of House, Year 7 Coordinator, Head of Learning Support, Psychology Department) meet to discuss specific students who receive additional intervention to support their wellbeing. This work is complemented by weekly Head of House meetings to discuss the wellbeing of the wider student body.
We strive to equip our students with the tools they need to actively maintain and improve their own wellbeing. External programs that the school have selected, such as The Resilience Program, do not just feature during dedicated workshops. Instead, their philosophies trickle through the different strata of school life and it is not uncommon to hear the language of resilience and reflection in our classrooms, hallways, and assemblies. Our Captains and Future Leaders also play an important role in supporting the wellbeing of their peers, acting as mentors for our younger students, facilitating workshops, and performing casual check-ins throughout the year.”
Alphington Grammar School also has its own School Psychologist.
AGS puts the wellbeing of our students and staff at the forefront of all we do.
Mr Maximillian White, School Psychologist
The school’s full-time psychology department offers one-to-one mental health counselling, group wellbeing programs and clinical assessment services.
“AGS also runs a range of school wide initiatives focused on education around wellbeing, resilience, consent, online safety, and positive behaviour.”
The close attention to mental health and wellbeing in private schools is important for children’s school performance.
3. Arts and Creativity in Private Schools
Arts and Creativity is given a new meaning in Australian private schools.
Private schools offer a range of facilities and technologies to cover every aspect of Arts and Creativity. This may include fine arts, performing arts, design and more.
As technologies progress and improve, the list of methods to create art grow. Being a good drawer is not nearly as important as it once was. New technologies can support the creation of art so it can appeal to more people and expand the pool of potential creatives.
Mr Michael Gregoriades, Secondary Visual Arts Coordinator, Alphington Grammar School
Research from the Australia Council for the Arts evidenced ‘wide-reaching benefits’ of creativity in education.
Creative learning approaches allow students to build confidence, improve academic education, increase student engagement and enhance social and emotional wellbeing. Including Arts and Creativity in education emphasises a sense of community at school.
Private schools have a greater emphasis on arts in education, which is an indicator of long term student success.
4. Global Connection in Private Schools
Most private schools offer some aspect of global connection for students.
Private school facilities incorporating global connection may include teaching different languages or providing opportunities for student exchange. Many private schools also have ‘sister schools’ overseas, where students connect with other students around the world.
As a school which offers Greek and Chinese language, our Secondary School students look forward to the Global Gateways program they can take part in during Years 9 or 10. Travel to these countries is an exciting and beneficial way for students to immerse themselves in, experience, and bring to life the language and culture taught in the classroom. Our sister school relationships have allowed sharing of projects and reciprocal visits, strengthening language and friendships.
Ms Denise Diakodimitriou, Head of LOTE
Such opportunities allow private school students to broaden their knowledge and perspectives. Connection to the global world allows students to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of other cultures.
International education is paramount at Xavier because it is simply part of our fabric as a College and a community. One of our focus is to reach for a greater understanding of others, for deep connections and continued discoveries of varied cultural backgrounds so our students can be men for others. They can develop the best version of themselves by reflecting on their own identity in a larger context. Travelling, abroad or interstate, also opens our young men’s mind and allows them to put in practice and experience first hand what they are exploring in the classroom.
International Education Coordinator, Marie-Pierre Deleplanque, Xavier College
Cultural literacy is a fundamental aspect of many careers, and your child may choose to pursue it in the future.
5. Moving to co-ed
A trend among many single-sex private schools is the transition into coeducation.
Barker’s transition to full coeducation was successfully completed at the start of 2022 and all years from Pre-K-12 are coeducational. It was a project five years in the making and has been enthusiastically embraced by our community and those wishing to join Barker. The world of work, education, employment and leadership has shifted considerably in the 21st century and having boys and girls learning and playing together helps to prepare them for life beyond the school gates.
Melissa Brady, Barker’s Director of Coeducation Transition, Barker College, NSW.
Private schools give parents the option to choose single-sex or coeducational learning.
Private Schools in Australia are adopting trends to equip students with practical skills and experience into higher education and the workforce.
Summary of 5 Private School Trends in Australia
Science and Technology
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Arts and Creativity
Moving to co–ed
News & Advice
Meriden’s new Centre for Music and Drama declared open
Image: The Greenhalgh Centre for Music and Drama
The Governor of NSW, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, will today open a spectacular new Centre for Music and Drama at Meriden, an independent Anglican School for girls in Strathfield.
Named by the Meriden School Council in recognition of Dr Julie Greenhalgh’s significant contribution as Principal of Meriden, the Greenhalgh Centre for Music and Drama will be home for a new generation of musicians and performing artists at the School, which this year celebrates 125 years of educating girls and young women.
Designed by AJ + C Architects and built by Buildcorp, the new building was commissioned in response to the success of Meriden’s music programs, which attract some of the best and brightest young musicians in the country.
“It brings me considerable joy to walk through our beautiful new facility, and hear music and laughter rise from every classroom. The Greenhalgh Centre for Music and Drama was created in recognition of the excellence of our young performers and musicians and provides a space appropriate for their hard work. The Greenhalgh Centre for Music and Drama is a magnificent addition to our School and will be loved by generations of students to come.”
Meriden’s Principal, Dr Julie Greenhalgh.
Director of Music at Meriden, Ms Jodie Spooner-Ryan, said the success of the building mirrored the success of Meriden’s music and drama programs.
“Meriden’s music and drama programs have gone from strength to strength. For them to find a home in a building that has been carefully crafted to extend and enhance learning is a wonderful development for both students and their teachers.”
“We are very much enjoying the specialist spaces. Our composition classroom allows our students to use specialist music software and record their compositions in the recording studio, our Recital Room gives students a space in which to perform and rehearse in an intimate chamber setting, while our Ensemble Room allows large ensembles and smaller bands to rehearse together,” said Ms Spooner-Ryan.
“We look forward to staging concerts in the open spaces for the school to enjoy, rehearsing musicals in our dedicated Allison Howell Drama Theatre, and seeing our Music Academy students continue to develop their love of music and performing,” said Ms Spooner-Ryan.
Year 12 student, Chaewon Park, said the space was an exciting one to learn in.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we first walked through. The Greenhalgh Centre for Music and Drama is beautiful. I already love to practise my cello in the music studios and I’m looking forward to performing in the bigger spaces. We feel very fortunate.”
Greenhalgh Centre for Music and Drama construction team
CTPG, Project Managers
AJ+C, Architecture and Interiors
Buildcorp, Building contractors
DJCoalition, Feature Lighting
Harris Page, Hydraulics
Holding Redlich, Legal
MBC Group, Certifier
Norman Disney & Young, ESD/Section J
Omnifire, Fire Safety
Richard Stuart Theatre and Production Consultant, Theatre Design
Shelmerdine Engineering, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
TTW, Façade, Structural and Civil Engineering
Urbis, Urban Planning
WT Partnership, Quantity Surveyor
News & Advice
A parent’s guide to starting Primary School in Australia
Starting primary school in Australia is a big milestone for children and families. It can be an exciting or a challenging time.
When does Primary School start in Australia?
Primary school is usually from Kindergarten (or ‘Kindy’) till year 6.
Whilst the correct age to start primary school varies by state, children usually begin at the age of 5 or 6.
To attend primary school, the child needs to be 5 years old before the cut-off to attend school.
Current cut-off dates in Australia
New South Wales (NSW) – 31 July
Victoria (VIC) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – 30 April
Queensland (QLD), Western Australia (WA) and Northern Territory (NT) – 30 June
South Australia (SA) – 1 May
Tasmania (TAS) – 1 January
When should I send my child to Primary School?
If your child is born before the cut-off date of a state, they have the option to be one of the older kids in the grade or one of the younger ones.
For example, if Jayden is born on the 24th of April, he can start school in NSW at the age of 4 years and 9 months. Jayden may also attend school the following year at the age of 5 years and 9 months where he will be one of the older students.
So which one is a better fit?
Selecting the right year of entry into primary school is a difficult decision for parents. There is no correct answer.
You may wish to consider the following when deciding whether your child is ready for big school:
1. Notice your child’s development
Most of the decision should depend on your child and how they are going.
Knowledge and cognitive ability
Think about your child’s cognitive skills.
When starting primary school in Australia your child should have a basic understanding of numbers and counting.
Have a conversation with your child and gauge whether they can understand stories and demonstrate thinking and reasoning skills. You may consider their ability to complete puzzles, sort and match objects or identify colours and shapes.
Another recommendation to look at is their ability to wait their turn and share toys and equipment.
Your child should be at the level to manage their emotions at school. This includes focusing on tasks, following instructions and being in the new primary school environment.
Your child should be able to understand the rules and interact with teachers correctly.
It is important your child is able to talk and listen to adults and other children when beginning school.
Make sure they are able to speak clearly to communicate their needs.
A good rule of thumb is to review whether your child can understand and retell simple stories.
Your child is going to be away from you for new and long periods of time.
If they are looking to start school, they should be able to manage their belongings, eat and drink and go to the bathroom without your supervision.
2. Speak to your child’s preschool teachers
Your child’s preschool or early learning centre teachers will have an understanding on where your child sits for the above skills.
Speak with them about your child’s development and whether they may benefit from waiting another year.
Checklist for starting Primary School in Australia
First day of Primary School bag essentials
Packed recess and lunch that is easy to eat and open
Pack water bottle
Stationery (ask the school to provide a list of required equipment)
Spare underwear, socks and clothing
Tip: Give your child a tour of their bag and explain where everything is. Otherwise, try and get them to help pack their school bag.
Attending the first day of Primary School
Give your child confidence and allow them to dress themselves if they can
Tie your child’s hair out of their face securely
Make sure you have an area to park/wait so you are not late to pick them up
Let your child and their teacher know who will be picking them up
After their day in Primary School
Communicate with care and kindness
Ask them how their day was
Ask them to recall school events throughout the day
Validate their feelings and experiences
Ask them about any friends they made
Ask their teacher about their behaviour and development
How can I ensure a smooth transition for starting Primary School in Australia?
‘Preschool’ is a great way to prepare your child for ‘big school’.
A great way to ensure a smooth and easy transition into primary school is to send your child to early learning at their ‘big school’.
Alphington Grammar School, Victoria, has an Early Learning Centre (‘ELC’), for children aged 3-5 to develop and grow.
At Alphington Grammar School, our youngest students develop the building blocks of learning in our dedicated ELC. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, our ELC teachers use spontaneous learning experiences and intentional teaching to scaffold and extend learning.
Throughout the week the children participate in school events and specialist programs including physical education, music, dance, library, Greek language immersive learning and bush adventuring. Active participation built on children’s curiosities ensures a solid foundation for a lifelong love of learning and a smooth transition into their Primary schooling journey.
Ms Danielle Munro, Early Learning Centre Leader
Preparing for Primary School at home
There are lots of activities for parents to try out with their child before starting primary school in Australia.
The NSW Government’s E-book recommends practicing the following 3 skills:
1. Speaking and listening
This is important so your child can socialise, make friends and participate at school.
Have conversations with them
Ask your child to recall events that happen throughout the day
Children mostly learn to read at school. However it is good for parents to show their child how books work:
Read to your child
Choose books they will find fun with ‘silly’ or rhyming sentences
Ask them to engage with the book (For example, “The cat is hiding behind the chair”. You may like to ask your child, “where is the cat hiding?”). This will help engage their comprehension skills.
3. Drawing and writing
Ask your child to draw or write about things they like
Help them draw or write something for a friend or family member
Remember to take care of your own wellbeing!
Being a parent is hard work. Remember to take time to practice self-care during this transition period for the family.
Need help finding or enrolling in a school?
News & Advice
The importance of extracurricular activities at school
Many schools offer extracurricular activities for students. While often overlooked, extracurricular activities are great for your child’s development and growth.
What are extracurricular activities?
Extracurricular activities are organised groups offered outside of the school curriculum.
Alphington Grammar School has an extensive co-curricular program which offers over 40 activities that complement our rich classroom curriculum. Some of our offerings include coding and robotics, debating, music ensembles, productions, and environmental groups. Students are encouraged to explore different activities to enrich their learning and to develop new skills to take with them throughout life.
Mrs Priya Wilson, Head of Music and Performing Arts, Co-Curricular Coordinator
Extracurricular activities may come in the form of music clubs, sports clubs, leadership teams, robotics and STEM clubs or more.
We offer a comprehensive co-curricular program, spanning sport, music, visual and performing arts, drama, technology, languages and a Faith In Action program.
The importance of extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities at school provide students with a well-rounded experience.
At Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, we value giving our students a holistic education that includes up to date curriculum taught in an engaging format. What we also know is that variety through co-curricular can help develop positive mental, physical, social and emotional health.
Working in a team
Extracurricular activities allow children to experience working in a team.
Working in a team towards a common goal is a great opportunity for your child to bond and learn alongside other students.
Research shows that teamwork teaches students essential social skills. Your child will learn active listening through their teachers or coaches. They will also listen and practice effectively speaking to others in the group to function as a team.
Working with others during extracurricular activities allows your child to meet people outside of their classroom and build their social skills.
Participating in sports teams also has significant benefits for children.
Engaging in extracurricular activities at school allows students to become well-rounded individuals.
Your child will have the opportunity to explore their different interests and passions.
Meriden pursues excellence beyond the classroom, providing a holistic education through a broad range of cocurricular activities that celebrates and caters to the School’s wonderful student diversity. Students are encouraged to pursue their passions, hone their skills and deepen relationships across year groups through the extensive offerings including Sport, Performing Arts, STEM, Cadets and a myriad of clubs. Meriden’s Olympus and Amadeus Programs provide personalised support for students performing at the highest levels in sport and music.
Mr Richard Hughes, Dean of Student Involvement, Meriden
Extracurricular activities at school will help your child build self-confidence as they can focus on their strengths and interests.
You may even discover a hidden talent your child has!
Extracurricular activities will provide your child with real-world experiences.
They will be exposed to a diverse range of people and relationships
They will have the opportunity to be involved with the community
They will be able to apply academic and sporting interests in a practical sense
Extracurricular activities at school will give your child a well-rounded, worldly experience which may benefit them when applying for university, jobs or college.
At Caroline Chisholm Catholic College in Victoria, extracurricular activities at school allow children to pursue professional opportunities outside the school.
“Within the area of Music, we are very proud of the diverse range of musical styles that are explored and showcased by our talented students.
The College runs a number of ensembles at lunchtime and after school to provide some real-life performing experience. Students are encouraged to perform in our lunchtime concerts, afternoon soirees, our Winter and Summer concert series, annual talent quest and College Musical. Our VCE VET Music students make links with industry professionals and performance opportunity outside the College are pursued.
A high number of students book out practice rooms each day at lunch and recess, often creating self-directed bands. These interactions develop skills such as problem solving, teamwork, communication, and self-management which are highly sort after in so many careers.”
Extracurricular activities at school may help the family juggle commitments
Most extracurricular activities at school occur before or after school.
This may help parents with multiple children, or working parents juggling commitments.
In NSW, the government is even trialling extended school hours, opening up extracurricular options for parents who find the current 9:00 am to 3:00 pm layout difficult.
Participating in extracurricular activities has been linked to increased wellbeing.
A new study from UBC researchers revealed that adolescents who participated in extracurricular activities displayed higher levels of optimism and life satisfaction. They also demonstrated lower levels of anxiety and depression symptoms.
Decreased screen time
Screen time is playing an increasing role in children’s life. Social media can have a potentially negative affect on your child’s mental health.
Children who participate in extracurricular activities after school are reported to spend less time looking at the screen by 2 or more hours.
The Australian Government’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines suggest that electronic media use for entertainment should be limited to a maximum of 2 hours daily.
A break from studying
Taking breaks from classroom study or homework is important, particularly during exam periods.
Participating in extracurricular activities at school allows your child to have a break from academic work while still learning.
Engaging in stimulating activities is a fantastic way for your child to clear their head when they are not studying.
Higher student success rate
Participation in these activities actually links to positive academic outcomes.
The NSW Government provides the following outcomes:
Higher educational aspirations
Improved attendance rates
Participating in extracurricular activity at school has also been found to reduce ‘delinquent and risky behaviour’.
Excelling outside the classroom
Extracurricular activities can be a confidence booster for students who do better in areas outside of the classroom.
“There are some skills that cannot be learnt from a textbook, and this is where co-curricular activities can really add value to a child’s education. Discovering new talents, taking risks, working as a team, building confidence, problem solving, making new friends and building relationships across the school are all examples of skills learnt through co-curricular activities.”
Laura Ruddick, Deputy Principal, Caroline Chisholm Catholic College
Students who are better at sports, music or performing arts have the opportunity to contribute to the school in a different way.
More leadership opportunity
A lot of the time, students who participate in extracurricular activities at school have some opportunity to exercise leadership.
Extracurricular activities and teams are often smaller and more specific than the normal classroom.
Students often fulfil roles with a leadership aspect or an increased responsibility in a project.
With bigger groups, it is a great opportunity for children to practice climbing into a leadership position.
Tip: Monitor your child so they are not too overwhelmed
It is important for your child to gain experience in extracurricular activities at school.
However, make sure your child is still having a balance between the classroom, extracurricular activities and family time.
If your child is taking on extra opportunities, check in to ensure they are not feeling overwhelmed.
How do students feel about extracurricular activities at school?
Upasana S, a Year 12 student at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College’s Sacred Heart Campus tells School Choice:
Caroline Chisholm Catholic College offers a variety of co-curricular activities within the three campuses that caters to individual interests and passions of students. We have specific clubs/groups designated to specific interests – if any of the students are passionate about the environment, we have a group of students from different years levels that have formed our Eco Committee, which is a team that works together to educate students about a range of topics to help protect and enrich our environment. For example, during Sustainability Week the team produced a schedule of daily activities that connected with others and allowed them to be actively involved. Additionally, we have also formed strong debating teams of student’s who represent the College in debating competitions with other schools in the area.
The College also offers a program called “Faith in Action” where students willingly participate to volunteer in the community where they assist and tutor students in primary schools.
These co-circular activities go beyond the classroom, allowing students to peruse their interests and passions. The students participating in these groups have said to me “the wide range of co-circular groups available in the College has enabled us to feel connected within our community and evokes a sense of belonging and inclusivity within our college life.”
Overall, co-curricular activities have only impacted our college in a positively manner, as these groups have a wide range of year levels involved it helps to remove the barriers between year levels and is a platform for students to develop many skills.