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UK to QLD Education

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(@melodymaker88)
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Hey everyone,

My family and I are planning to relocate to Queensland in July 2024. Our daughter will celebrate her 15th birthday this month, just after completing her first year of GCSE studies (Year 10 in the UK). We also have a 12-year-old, but we believe the transition for them will be less complicated. If I'm not mistaken, our daughter will be entering the middle of Year 10 in Queensland, correct? Or would she be placed in Year 11?

I've had difficulty finding a straightforward explanation of the Australian education system, particularly how it works in Years 11 and 12. Do students select specific subjects for TAFE, similar to how they would choose their option subjects in the UK, or does the curriculum remain broad?

We're considering enrolling her in an international school or supplementing her education with online classes so she can continue her GCSE core subjects through to examination. So far, I've only found one school in Queensland that offers iGCSE - Matthew Flinders in Buderim. Does anyone know of any other international schools or alternative options?

We understand that GCSEs don't "matter" in Australia and that the crucial qualification is earned in Year 12. We're just trying to fully grasp our options and, ideally, provide her with a backup plan in case we return to the UK when our visa expires in 2028. We have a 491 visa, so we should be able to transition to permanent residency via the 191 visa at the end of the 491, but we want to be prepared just in case.

Our daughter is excited about the move, and we're just trying to wrap our heads around the system and consider how we can keep her options open in case we return to the UK.

We'd be grateful for any information and advice you can offer!


   
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(@butterfly_bella)
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Strictly speaking, your eldest daughter could enter Year 10 in July 2024; however, she would be the youngest in that cohort, and most children her age will likely be in Year 9. You might want to consider having her join Year 9 instead. In Queensland, students remain in high school until the end of Year 12, and they select their subjects at the end of Year 10. TAFE is a separate system, typically pursued after school by those who don't wish to attend university, and is more geared towards post-school-age individuals.

If you're likely to return to the UK, you'd be better off finding a school that offers the International Baccalaureate (IB), and there should be more of them available. You can find more information at https://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/stages-of-schooling/international-baccalaureate .

I understand that she's eager to make the move, but if there's a chance you won't like it or won't obtain permanent residency, have you considered letting her stay in the UK until she completes her A-levels? She could board with family or friends and spend holidays with you. This way, she would maintain all her options for university in either country. A-levels are well-recognized in Australia, but Year 12 results don't convert as easily in return. Furthermore, if you do return and she has an IB score (which would be preferable), she will face international fees for university, even though she's a British citizen.


   
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(@melodymaker88)
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Thank you for the helpful information. I hadn't considered the implications for university fees. If we stay in Australia, would there be any consequences for university fees, or would they apply as they would to any citizen?

Unfortunately, I don't think boarding in the UK would be a viable option. We are a very close-knit family, and she is quite shy and sensitive.

We'll need to think carefully about this. It's our only stumbling block, but it does make me reconsider going. However, we may not get another opportunity like this!


   
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(@violetskies9)
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If you're on a 191 visa by then, she'd be eligible for a Commonwealth Supported Place. As it's a permanent residence visa, she'd also be eligible for youth allowance if she meets the criteria. However, HECS loans to cover tuition costs would not be available until (and if) she obtains citizenship. You can find more information at https://www.studyassist.gov.au/help-loans/hecs-help.


   
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(@melodymaker88)
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Thank you. If we secure a 191 visa, is there a website you can recommend for information on higher education options, such as the range of degree apprenticeships and degrees available?


   
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(@butterfly_bella)
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As Bella mentioned, your daughter will be the correct age to join Year 10 in Queensland at the start of Semester 2 next year (July 2024) because it's based on the child's age as of June 30th each year, even though the academic year begins in January (which is different from the UK). Although she will be one of the youngest in the cohort, I strongly recommend she goes directly into Year 10 and not Year 9, assuming she has average or above-average academic ability. I've taught in both the UK and Queensland state school systems, and I would generally say that the academic standard in (most) UK schools is notably higher, to the point where Year 10 in the UK is equivalent to Year 10 in Australia, even though students here are, on average, six months older. It would also mean that she'd only need to complete six months of school before starting Year 11, which is when the real work begins.

Towards the end of Year 10, students choose their options for Years 11 and 12. If they follow an academic pathway, they will choose Math and English (which are compulsory) and four other subjects. I would say that the academic rigor is higher than GCSE but nowhere near as high as A-levels. If she intends to follow a more vocational pathway, most schools offer practical subjects and Certificate courses, which effectively lead them into TAFE courses once they complete Year 12.

Australian high school qualifications are generally accepted for entry into UK universities and other higher education courses, so it's rather a waste of time for your daughter to complete her GCSEs, and it will put her under unnecessary pressure. That's assuming you will stay in Australia long enough for her to complete Year 12 and gain her QCE and ATAR, which she should do if you're here until 2028.


   
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(@melodymaker88)
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@butterfly_bella Thank you so much. That makes sense. The university information above suggests that we would have to commit to staying beyond 2028 (subject to obtaining a 191 visa).

I am a teacher as well, so I will be looking for work in Australia. I would be interested to know how you have found it compares to the UK in terms of workload, pay, etc. We are hoping that we might achieve a better standard of living and lifestyle, especially for the kids. My other half will be seeking work in Construction Management, but my visa is the primary one.

I am very enthusiastic, but occasionally I feel terrible guilt and worry about leaving my mom. My dad passed away a few months ago, and despite the frustration and delays caused by COVID-related border closures, we were at least able to spend his last few years with him as he was ill with dementia. It's been a challenging few years, and we are hopeful that Australia will provide us with fresh opportunities and reinvigorate us.


   
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(@violetskies9)
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Posted by: @melodymaker88

Thank you. If we secure a 191 visa, is there a website you can recommend for information on higher education options, such as the range of degree apprenticeships and degrees available?

I'm afraid I can't provide insight into that, but I could point you in the direction of three universities in Australia that I believe are worth considering. However, I doubt that will be of much help to anyone. Over the last twenty years, I've become somewhat disenchanted with academic standards globally, but that's a rant for another time and place.

Hopefully, someone will be able to provide useful resources for that sort of information.

What I will say is that TAFE is far superior to anything equivalent in Further Education (FE) in the UK. If your daughter is more inclined towards vocational studies, the support and investment here certainly surpasses what relatives and friends have experienced in the UK over the last decade.

 


   
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(@violetskies9)
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Posted by: @melodymaker88

I am very enthusiastic, but occasionally I feel terrible guilt and worry about leaving my mom. My dad passed away a few months ago, and despite the frustration and delays caused by COVID-related border closures, we were at least able to spend his last few years with him as he was ill with dementia. It's been a challenging few years, and we are hopeful that Australia will provide us with fresh opportunities and reinvigorate us.

Making the move isn't easy, and as some on the forum might agree, we need a bit of the selfish gene to do something like moving to the other side of the world. That doesn't mean you don't care for, love, or miss the ones left behind; it's natural for us to question ourselves on that front from time to time.

We experienced a very shocking death in the family within seven months of moving here permanently. The truth is, given the circumstances, even if we had been living next door, there would have been absolutely nothing we could have done about it.

Despite Optus' best efforts to the contrary, we're fortunate to have modern communication systems that allow us to keep in touch with those back home.

And flight prices are slowly returning to sanity. For example, China Southern, a pretty decent airline (my wife raves about the experience and loves them), currently has return flights from Melbourne to Heathrow for $1,200 next May. While it's not exactly an EasyJet fare, it's also not overly expensive for making those trips back to Blighty every once in a while. (Although, if it's just one or two family members and they're capable of making the trip, more affordable holidays to Oz to see the family might be an option).

Whatever you decide to do, both short and long term, I wish you the very best of luck. It's not an easy thing to do; it takes a fair bit of courage to uproot and move halfway around the globe.


   
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