• 2021.06.29
My friends back home in Italy often ask me how Australian schools differ from Italian schools.
I don’t know much about Australian schools first hand because, except for some technical courses and advanced English classes, I haven’t attended school here but, after years living here, I certainly acquired many information about it.
The first Australian school term normally starts at the end of January and the calendar vary depending on where in OZ you are so here in New South Wales for instance it will be different from Queensland and so on.
The Autumn vacation is normally in April whereas the Winter vacation is usually between June and July, before the third term begins. The Spring vacation is generally between September and October and right before the fourth term. The Summer vacation is the longest one and it’s about a month between the end of December (for the Christmas time) and the end of January when the school starts.
When people ask me whether I think if Italian schools are better than Australian schools I say I am in no place to judge them and I absolutely cannot decide that.
I think they both have great strengths and preferring one over the other depends on the personal idea you have of school and what we would like for our children. Sometimes I think that a middle ground between the two would be ideal.
The differences between the Italian and Australian schools are many, but I think they can be summarized in two main points: public versus private system.
Here in Australia, much more than in Italy, people rely on private institutions for the education of their children.
There are also selective institutes (both public and private) for particularly gifted children, with a more full-bodied study program and these can be accessed via an exam.
The idea that I personally got, living here for a few years and having visited a few local schools, is that the fundamental difference is not so much relative to the quality of education offered by the public versus the private one, but rather to a series of benefits that come from private schools such as the right to an exclusive environment, results often higher which grant better university admissions, more and better afternoon activities, better paid and therefore more helpful teachers and smaller classes.
To make you understand the proportion, in the neighborhood where I live, we have only one public High School and eight private institutes with a price ranging from 8 to 20 thousand Australian dollars per year.
The fact that you have to pay makes private schools not very homogeneous, in my opinion as each school will welcome that slice of the population that can afford that tuition and, in my opinion, this is not good. I think it is very important to mix social classes rather than stratify them.
Studying in a public school back in Italy (where private ones are very rare, especially at the High School level) gave me, who don't come from a wealthy family, the feeling that I could become anything I wanted and I had the opportunity to relate to everyone, to hang out with everyone and to better understand social differences. I feel I had equal opportunity and I didn't suffer any disadvantages from studying in a public school but perhaps here in Australia you could be somewhat discriminate against if you go to a public institution.
To tell the truth, I must specify that I cannot claim to know the Australian one so well that I can judge it. I can certainly say that this is one of the things that surprised me the most, as soon as I arrived.
Another difference I certainly noticed is that in Australia there is a lot of emphasis on practical learning and that's something I appreciate. Children feel free to express themselves and learn through direct experience.
I think that, especially in the early years, it's a great approach as they feel more involved, they spend less time sitting at the desk and have fun.
Another thing that, in my opinion, is much better than my Italian experience, is the time spent outdoors. Children spend a large part of their day outside. There is often no canteen as we know it, but lunch and snacks are eaten outdoors in the school gardens.
In all schools across the country, wearing a hat and applying a very high protection sunscreen (minimum 30) are compulsory and there are many shaded areas available to children.
Children feel happy to learn because they are under less pressure: they are prompted, right away, to discover and cultivate their talents, to ask questions and to get involved.

There are obviously other differences between the Italian and Australian schools, besides these main ones. No less important, but somewhat relevant in OZ: teachers change every year, school uniforms are available, schools are often divided into male and female and there are awards, prizes that are given to children throughout the year.


  • Alberto Ferrando
  • AgeHorse (UMA)
  • GenderMale
  • Jobcivil engineer

Hello everyone! I’m originally from Italy and I moved to Sydney, Australia, in 2012 after getting a job as a civil engineer. I love walking my dog along the beach, surfing and taking photos. I used to have a travel blog because I’m passionate about traveling and I love writing about it too. Sydney is my home base now and I wish to share how amazing it is to live here. I love to spend time outdoors and I’m always well informed about local events because my girlfriend works in event management.

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