Guest beth

How schools differ to the UK

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    Guest beth

    We are trying to decide whether to move over from the UK and so I am posting a few questions to help. One of which is how do schools differ from the UK.

    I must admit I was disappointed to find out that some schools dont celebrate Christmas due to religious issues and thought we would be getting away from this madness (in my opinion) when we leave the uk.

     

    Is there the pressure/ homework/ exams that our kids have to go through in the uk.... Currently sats for primary school age etc.

     

    Thanks

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    Public schools in general have no religious component, but certainly when my kids were in Junior primary, there was an end of year carols picnic. Also the religious leaders in the area came to the school for a joint Christmas session, which you had to sign a permission slip for. It is just that religion in schools is only taught as a wider programme as part of world knowledge, eg hinduism, islam etc might be studied in society and environment, but assemblies do not contain prayers, hymns etc.

     

    Kids in Australia sit national tests in numeracy and literacy at grades 3, 5, 7 and 9. The lead up to them is low key with the teacher taking the kids through a few practise tests before hand, especially in the lower age groups. I don't remember the kids at school being particularly phased by them. You as a parent have the option for your child not to sit them, but they are a useful tool in some children's cases.

     

    Public schools do set homework and in SA there are guidelines as to how much should be set aside and certainly in primary school, this usually just covers reading practise and spelling lists in the junior years leading up to projects etc as they get older and then more set homework in high school. Children are encouraged to join in school sports teams and if they have other extracurricular pastimes then deadlines can usually be negotiated with the teacher should a concert or whatever be coming up.

     

    There is usually no problem with taking your child out of school for a family holiday. You just notify the principal in writing of length and purpose. Most schools see this as good cultural life experience and recognise that parents don't usually have holidays when schools do.

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    This kids have alot more outdoor classes, our lil man @ primary school goes beach combing, builsing sandcastles etc etc...our oldest girl at Senior school go out for bike rides and the like...our kids love school out here our oldest ones were not keen at all in the UK.

     

    HG

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    I'm not totally sure what I think of the schools here. Some things are better but others are worse. My children go to what is considered a good state primary school here, and went to an Ofsted 'outstanding' village primary in the UK. Academically the work was of a higher standard in the UK, my son was way ahead of the class when he got here and amazed at how 'ignorant' some of the Australian children were. However he really enjoys the casual atmosphere here. As a parent I was amazed that when the bell rings for the end of school, the children just wander out of their classrooms, whereas back in England the teacher handed your child over to you up until year 3, and security of the school premises was paramount - gates locked etc. Here anyone can wander into the school grounds at anytime of day. In some ways it is good, as the children are less controlled and given more responsibility, but in other ways I do worry about the security of the place. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on spelling, which isn't a bad thing, but the children find some of the teaching methods very repetitive and boring. I think they were spoilt by having some very good teachers in the UK. There is very little if no geography or history or drama. However, saying all that the children at the school seem livelier and more independent than their UK conterparts. There are a lot of private schools, but the vast majority are religious, so if you are not religious there isn't really an alternative to the state system.

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    Guest beth

    Ooo im not keen on the lack of security at the schools or is this just your school?

    Like the laid back approach as although i dont want my kids to not learn things i think the uk education system is too full on and i want my kids to be kids if you see what i mean. Its good that they can be taken out in term time as again in the uk we have to have written permission or we get fined!

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    The lack of security is not something Aussies worry about, after all no one here has experienced a school massacre by a nutter like you have in the UK. Children, if they are little are usually sent in twos if they have to go somewhere around the school and teachers are on duty in the school yard at breaktimes etc. I guess the plus side is that children have to learn to be responsible for keeping themselves safe, rather than relying on locked gates and fences. Children are quite good at identifying people who shouldn't be at their school and who to notify etc, I suppose it is just what they become used to.

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    Guest HeatherandPip

    Hi, I'd like to think that the above is the exception - I am a pre service teacher - studying for a masters in teaching at Flinders and due to graduate in Dec. I have had experience first hand of Aus schools (on practicums) and have not experienced any of the negatives described. Security is highly regarded - as a teacher applying for jobs one has to state how safety will be enforced in his/her classroom. DECS has stringent safety policies, as do individual schools. I also have never experienced students wandering out at hometime. The schools I have worked in place great value on every minute of learning time and dismiss the students at the correct time regardless of whether mum is waiting (parents are generally asked not to come into the classroom, but to wait outside for their child so as not to interrupt schooltime). As far as ability goes, I have worked with a vast diversity of students, and my masters course has taught me how to support the average kid, the 'slower' learner, and the gifted student.

    This is definitely what teacher education is inspiring in teachers. If you experience any less, pls dont tar all schools or teachers with the same brush.

    There is a website -'my school' which has the stats for every school. However, this website bases its opinion of schools solely on NAPLAN results which is neither fair or realistic .

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    Guest HeatherandPip

    Also, if you want to see what your child will be taught, google Australian Curriculum - this is the National curriculum that is being developed now and already being implemented in a lot of schools, and will be in all next year. Teachers and principals have to teach according to this.

    Up until now, SACSA has been the framework for SA.

    Most schools base their teaching methods on constructivism which is hands- on, exploratory learning, where kids are involved and engaged. If kids are finding lessons repetitive or boring, thats not a good school and perhaps the class has one of those many teachers reaching retirement age !

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    Guest bishop3912

    Sorry have to disagree with HeatherandPip, the security is Defo alot different from UK schools I have kids in grades ranging from reception to grade 4 and they all are just let out of the class room when the bell goes. No checks r made whatsoever on whether the parents r outside, kids r just told to come back into class if no parent is there!!! Therefore I am always there Megga early lol. This is also not just at our school it is the same at my mates kids schools to. Not sure yet abt what I think of the schooling, they Defo don't push the kids like UK schools do, 90% of the time they r also not given any homework bar spellings & reading, which needless to say the kids love lol. At recess & lunchtime there r always teachers patrolling the allowed areas in school, what I don't like though is that if a kiddie wants to go to the loo at this time they just go to one of the loos (and they r all outside the classrooms at our school anyways). This does worry me & I have drummed it into my kids to take a mate with them.

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    We've very limited experience of schooling here - Thomas is only five-and-a-half - so our views are not necessarily representative. We've mentioned on here previously some of our concerns, so I won't go over them again, but security is a worry for us. At Thomas' school a fence surrounds the playing fields but there are two ways in and out of the grounds and there are no gates on these, they're just openings. One is the main entrance but the other is a sort of alley alongside houses. Whilst teachers do patrol at breaktime, there are a lot of kids for very few watchers and there's little from stopping either kids from wandering off or undesirables wandering in.

     

    Security is an awkward thing because the risk of anything untoward happening is so remote, and the last thing that schools should be is prisons, but I'm not sure if Thomas' school has got the balance quite right.

     

    Jim

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    Guest bishop3912

    Jim&adel - our school is very similar except we have no fencing as such just a type of knee height metal bar type fence, we also back onto a reserve!! Definitely sgree that number of adults patrolling at outside time is very low compaired to pupils. Our school is open on all sided in one way or another & is Defo a thing that will take some getting used to, CCTV is also very lacking if at all in most areas. I know if my youngest wants to go to the loo during class time they r allowed to go with teachers permission but on their own with no chaperone!! The problem is although it is thought that the risk of something happening is very remote it is not unheard of but no publicised like in UK. They need to get the balance right unfortunately. Also referring to the OP post one of my children is dyslexic & in UK he used to get 3 hrs 45 mins a week plus 1-1 daily spelling assistance in UK but here he has only just been granted 1hr a week, hopefully upping to 1.5hrs a week should the school b able to juggle their funding :-(. But as I said previously my kids love the laid back school attitude. Corinne

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    Guest beth

    Gosh this is of real concern. Do they have police checks on who works in a school too? We have crb for anyone who comes into contact with the kids. I really dont like the sound of the lackof security as descirbed. Not sure I would be able to relax or fit in with this aussie way of life as i am quite an over protective mother ;)

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    Guest Adelaide_bound

    I don't quite understand the security worries - if a nutter wants to take a kid, they will take them, whether the gate is locked like fort knox or not. Obviously you don't want to flaunt things, a bit like not leaving your CDs out on a car seat when you go shopping, or your wallet in your back pocket, but equally, imho we are far far too obsessed with wrapping our poor children in cotton wool here in the UK - when they get to 13/16/18 they just can't cope with making choices and taking responsibility for themselves because they have so little practise and have had so little trust put in them. And at the end of the day it appears to have very little to do with the actual child, but much to do with culpability and who's to blame - today we went on a school trip where the children were allowed to go mad on a very extensive playground, which imho was for much older children than the 7&8 year olds we took. I expressed a gasp at some of the items in the playground, just in passing to a colleague, and was told 'well, we have the risk assessment paperwork for it, so its all fine'. Previously we had visited another place with a very small playground with very low slides etc in it, and wanted to let the kids have a go, but were told 'there is no risk assessment written for it, so we can't'. We are so bothered with the paperwork and 'doing the red tape thing', we've completely forgotten common sense - and I think this has effected people who just see the outside of the situation as it were as well unfortunately - it would be interesting to hear from people of an older generation when schools weren't locked up so much to hear if they were similarly as worried at school security or if we had things a bit more in perspective back then.

     

    I have read reports (and no, I can't link to them as I don't bookmark stuff when I read it) that show there is no more child abduction or cases of infanticide (where the perpetrator is not known to the child) in the UK than there was in the 60s or 70s its just we have far more sophisticated media now a days so everyone knows about it when it does happen instantly (There are probably loads of similar reports saying that thousands of lives have been saved by the sky high gates and locks and so on equally, just to give a balanced argument).

     

    I just think its very very sad we have such little trust in our UK students now - in many schools I've been in all the security is cited as being to keep the little blighters in as much as the baddies out as it were (their words). I seriously hope that Australia does not go down the same path.

     

    Really sorry to derail the thread, but I feel really strongly about this, as it is a very big reason for us wanting to move to Australia and leave the UK behind, so felt it was something I wanted to chip in on - sorry I can't comment on schools in Australia from a first hand point of view.

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    Guest Adelaide_bound
    Do they have police checks on who works in a school too? We have crb for anyone who comes into contact with the kids.

     

    Despite all the media coverage of this, its not actually true, and a CRB will only tell you if someone has already committed a crime - there has to be first time for each criminal surely?

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    Guest HeatherandPip

    i have to admit that I have little experience of schools in the UK so how they compare I cant comment on. I only know about what I have learned here which I thought was pretty good. But seems that by comparison Aus schools dont do so well. This is surprising and disappointing. Thanks to all posters on this thread - opened my eyes a bit.

    I will just say though that each individual teacher is the decision maker in the classroom - the kids in my class will be safe and valued, and all those I am currently studying with share this attitude.

    Atm, a lot of teachers are taking early retirement and new graduates are flooding the the profession. So hopefully this will bring an improvement.

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    Guest HeatherandPip

    it is a requirement of the TRB to have a full police clearance - without one you cannot register as a teacher.

    if a teacher has lived in another country they must also be cleared there.

    they must also complete mandatory notification training and first aid.

     

    without any of this you cannot work as a teacher anywhere anytime.

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    During my children's primary schooling here, none of them went out of school or hid or went to areas they weren't supposed to in the school grounds. In the 15 years we had association with this school there were no cctv cameras, no abductions or anything untoward happen at all. This was a state primary and each year about ten or so of the year 7s would get scholarships to the big privates. Junior primary teaching is a more social, hands on approach, based a lot on a mix of world known methodology including reggio emilia and montessori, but in no way should you think that Australian education is less of a standard than UK. Aussie kids become doctors, lawyers, etc and Australians have been at the forefront of many scientific/medical research areas. Aussie kids also become good tradies, hairdressers and mechanics or whatever. Education here has been developed for Australian needs and becomes very rigourous in the higher years of High school. Kids are actually quite good at keeping themselves safe if they are allowed to and within the school community as I said before children are usually very quick to report intruders. Five year olds and up are quite capable of following the direction of don't leave with a parent other than your own and come inside a classroom if you don't feel safe or your parent is not there.

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    Atm, a lot of teachers are taking early retirement and new graduates are flooding the the profession. So hopefully this will bring an improvement.

     

    My understanding of this is that it doesn't mean an improvement is on the cards. The recent large scale early retirement offer was possibly more to save the coffers than to improve standards.

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    Adelaide_bound, you raise some very valid points in your post above. I went to school from the mid 70's and it was so very different. I personally feel things like CCTV, high fences, insane safety requirements and all the insane paperwork has taken away a lot of what growing up could be. I know there are more cars on the road and all that, but I used to walk home from school safely, on my own, from the age of 7. Before that in my final year of primary (as it was back then) I was allowed to walk home and my Mum would wait outside our house and just be there for me to cross the road.

     

    My husband went through the Aussie school system and did very well from it. The top 5% of the academic year infact. So it never did him any harm. He attended Adelaide uni and now works in the UK, in a job that requires his brains and skills. His schooling has stood him in good stead to work in the UK for sure. Its not been a drawback or hinderence in the least.

     

    I do agree, having talked to him and others (some of whom have experience in teaching in Aus) that it is at the senior school level that the Aussies tend to work harder and do better than we do here (on average). At a primary level I feel it is still good, not worse or lagging behind, just different. I personally don't find the UK system at all inspiring, there are good and not so good schools wherever you go. Same as anywhere.

     

    I guess my age, my own schooling experiences (the days of strict school uniform and school detentions actually being really bad news) has given me a differing POV to things than some others here, perhaps closer to your own. I like that there is more independence and self sufficiency encouraged in the Aussie system.

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    During my children's primary schooling here, none of them went out of school or hid or went to areas they weren't supposed to in the school grounds. In the 15 years we had association with this school there were no cctv cameras, no abductions or anything untoward happen at all. This was a state primary and each year about ten or so of the year 7s would get scholarships to the big privates. Junior primary teaching is a more social, hands on approach, based a lot on a mix of world known methodology including reggio emilia and montessori, but in no way should you think that Australian education is less of a standard than UK. Aussie kids become doctors, lawyers, etc and Australians have been at the forefront of many scientific/medical research areas. Aussie kids also become good tradies, hairdressers and mechanics or whatever. Education here has been developed for Australian needs and becomes very rigourous in the higher years of High school. Kids are actually quite good at keeping themselves safe if they are allowed to and within the school community as I said before children are usually very quick to report intruders. Five year olds and up are quite capable of following the direction of don't leave with a parent other than your own and come inside a classroom if you don't feel safe or your parent is not there.

     

    Very well said!

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    Guest beth

    Thanks for all of the replies and debate it is really useful and interesting. I didnt really want to get side tracked into whether the uk or oz was the best in academic terms it was more the cultural differences. I am glad that the teachers have police checks and understand what is being said re being a bit more relaxed on security. It sounds odd but i dont want my kids to be insanely pushed in primary school. I remember really enjoying my school in the 80s and think that kids today in the uk are not kids anymore and are pushed too much. There is room for that at senior school. In the uk kids get a lot of homework at primary and exams plus there is so much competition due to lack of jobs after school as the country is over flowing. Oh and an aside, what is the class size like out of interest?

    Thanks!

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    Some of the more charming differences might include the kiss-and-drop zone where parents do exactly that, kiss their kids in their cars before dropping them off at school. I love seeing the kids controlling the school crossings - you know, under supervision they blow a whistle before accompanying kids across the road. It's a serious responsibility and a great learning opportunity for them. The kids have the chance to take part in various sports, debates, trips, competitions - whether intellectual or physical, canteen runs, walks over the reserves, ovals, beach... This is all the way through primary school and high school. Learning is not purely classroom based which, I think, can make for more rounded, confident, responsible young adults. Won't work for everybody and everyone will have their own opinion on this.

     

    As for tests...don't forget kids sit NAPLAN tests every couple of years, from Year 3 all the way up to Year 9. NAPlLAN is basically a way to check that kids in different areas are achieving basic levels in literacy and numeracy against a national average. They are taken very seriously.In my experience class sizes can vary enormously.

     

    My kids seemed to have around 28 students on average in primary and up to 36(!!) in high school. Large class numbers sound horrible but it really depends on how the kids behave, what year they are in, the subject and the teacher. And remember, class sizes were larger back in the day but education did not necessarily suffer.Just a few random thoughts :)LC

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    I will just say though that each individual teacher is the decision maker in the classroom - the kids in my class will be safe and valued, and all those I am currently studying with share this attitude.

    Atm, a lot of teachers are taking early retirement and new graduates are flooding the the profession. So hopefully this will bring an improvement.

     

     

    From this, and one of your previous posts, you seem to be obsessed about the 'older' teacher. I would think that not all older teachers are useless, and, in fact, that many of them who are still teaching, are doing it because they want to, and they have many years experience in the whole area of teaching, not just a few practicums, where you don't have the full responsibility.

     

    No, I am not an 'older' teacher still in the work force, but in my twenty or so years of teaching, it was generally the 'older', more experienced teachers who were more greatly valued by parents. There are good and bad in every age group, but teaching is much more than just some philosophies of what makes 'good' teaching, and sometimes the experience really counts, especially in the areas of managing children as well as teaching content.

     

    Once you get out into the workforce, I can assure you it is not as easy and straightforward as you may think, and I'd be careful about running down anyone with more experience and assuming that everything will be much improved once all the new graduates take over. I have to say, that my first three years of teaching were probably my most difficult, and that having the FULL responsibility is much different from the practicums, where you are supported by a teacher, who is doing all of the behind the scenes things that must be done, and taking the full responsibility of the students, and contact with parents, and so on, that just isn't covered in practicums.

     

    Also, in my years of being involved with education in South Australia, since the 70's, I have never heard of any issues that would have been solved by having high fences and locked gates. In my opinion, children should not be taught in prisons. However, if society goes that way, that it does become an issue, then, by all means, start locking children in their schools. Bad things can, and do, happen, no matter what precautions are taken, but I think you can go too far.

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    My understanding of this is that it doesn't mean an improvement is on the cards. The recent large scale early retirement offer was possibly more to save the coffers than to improve standards.

     

    Oh, and Snifter, you are absolutely right! It IS totally about money. An experienced teacher is earning a lot more than a graduate, and they have worked out that even with the payments, they will still be better off financially. Of course, they are going to cloak it with talk of getting rid of 'tired' teachers. I would say that a teacher will be 'tired', no matter how long they have been teaching. If not, then they are not doing the job properly. You are dealing with a political system here, so don't believe everything that you hear/read. There is no way that they'll say, 'We must get rid of some older, experienced teachers, because we can save a lot of money if we do.' No, make it sound like it is all for the good of the people!

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