Teaching in Australia vs teaching in the UK

So you’re thinking of teaching in the UK? You should! Aussies will fit into life in the Motherland in no time – after all, we have the same language, the same culture and a very similar educational landscape to Australia.
But if you thought that the UK was just a smaller, more rainy version of Aus, we’ll stop you in your tracks right there. There are a surprising number of differences between teaching in Australia and teaching in the UK.
Before you board that plane to go and teach a class in Old Britannia, here are some of the key differences you should know about.

Term dates

Being smack-bang on the opposite side of the planet, UK seasons are the complete opposite of those in Australia. As well as causing you to be a tad bit confused by hot Augusts and cold Christmases, this also means a completely different school calendar.
Being a teacher from the land down under, you will be used to a school year that closely echoes a calendar year. With a school year that runs from January to December, you will be used to having your long holiday over Christmas, as well as enjoying three two-week breaks in between terms in April, July and September.
As you are coming to teach in the UK, the whole school year is turned on its head. As the UK Summer runs from June to August, the largest school holiday falls in this period. The school year itself starts at the beginning of September and runs until mid-July.
Don’t fret – you will still get those handy two week holiday periods, but these will fall over Christmas and Easter. If this wasn’t enough to make you go and search for your passport, the UK actually offers additional one week holidays called ‘half term holidays’. These fall in February, May and October.
Much like school terms vary between Australian states, term dates also vary between British counties. However, one thing is for sure: teaching in the UK means more holiday!

The curriculum

The Australian Curriculum sets a certain standard of what Australian students should be taught no matter what their geographical area or socio-economic background. Each state and territory is responsible for the implementation of the national curriculum.
The British Education system is quite similar to that down under. All schools must follow the National Curriculum, which provides a framework for students between the ages of 5 and 18.
The main difference here is that the British Curriculum implements ‘Key Stages’. These are parts of the curriculum that are broken up into specific age groups. The British Key Stages are as follows:
Key Stage 1 – Foundation year and Years 1 to 2 – pupils between 5 and 7 years old
Key Stage 2 – Years 3 to 6 – pupils between 8 and 11 years old
Key Stage 3 – Years 7 to 9 – pupils between 12 and 14 years old,
Key Stage 4 – Years 10 to 11 – pupils between 15 and 16 years old, and
Key Stage 5 – Years 12 to 13 – pupils between 17 and 18 years old.
Year levels vs grades
The phrase ‘years’ has probably already confused you! ‘Years’ are very similar to Australian grades. Although children start school at very similar ages in both countries, students in the UK can remain at school until they are 18. This is referred to as ‘sixth form’ and is a must for anyone who wishes to attend university. It is the British law to remain in education until Year 11 (age 16).
To make the comparison between year levels and grades ridiculously easy, here’s a translation of each Australian grade to British school year.
Primary school
Prep- known in the UK as ‘Reception’- Ages 4-5
Grade One- Year One- Ages 5-6
Grade Two- Year Two- Ages 6-7
Grade Three- Year Three- Ages 7-8
Grade Four- Year Four- Ages 8-9
Grade Five- Year Five- Ages 9-10
Grade Six- Year Six- Ages 10-11
Secondary school
Grade Seven- Year Seven- Ages 11-12
Grade Eight- Year Eight- Ages 12-13
Grade Nine- Year Nine- Ages 13-14
Grade Ten- Year Ten- Ages 14-15
Grade Eleven- Year Eleven- Ages 15-16- The final year of compulsory school, in which students take ‘GCSE’ exams
Grade Twelve- Year Twelve- Ages 16-17- The first year of ‘Sixth Form’, in which students complete ‘AS Levels’
Year Thirteen- Ages 17-18- The final year of ‘Sixth Form’, in which students complete ‘A Levels’.
Now you’re all set to teach in the UK!

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