Tuesday, April 1, 2014

His Living in America - A Day in the Life of an Aussie School Student

We are so excited that the April 2014 A-Z Blogging Challenge has begun. Here we go!


Today's post is about a typical day in an Australian high school. One may think that it would be similar to school in America but it has plenty of differences. For today's post, I am using my own experiences from high school.

One of the classroom buildings at Oxley High School

  A typical school day started around 7:30am when I started to get ready for school. I put on my school uniform as all schools in Australia require them. They were some of the most unflattering fabrics known to man, but at least we all had to suffer together. In year 7-10 it was a grey button down shirt with grey pants (yeah most prisoners have better uniform colours than that). The colors for 11th and 12th grade were better with a white shirt and navy blue pants. We also had to wear black shoes that had no other colour on it.  Once I got my uniform and had some breakfast it was time to walk the mile or so to school. I had to make my own way to school since I lived closer than two miles as the crow flies. If you lived further than that then you could ride the bus for free to school. 

These old railroad carriages were used as classrooms while I attended. - Source
         The first bell rang at 8:50am and my first stop was roll call and D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read.) Our roll call room consisted of about 30 students ranging from 7th-12th grade. Every student had the same roll call room for the entire time that they attended the school. It was a little weird having kids ranging in ages from 11-19 in the same room, but it was nice having the same roll call room every year. The building that you had roll call was in was also the house that you belonged to. (Our schools had houses just like Harry Potter and friends, but sadly there was no sorting hat or ceremony. Just a slip of paper on your first day telling you where to report for roll call). You always made sure to make it to roll call on time as they would lock the door and you would have to visit the deputy (assistant) principal for a late slip. During roll call and D.E.A.R., the teacher took attendance and then you were required to read quietly.  They didn't care what you read as long as you were quiet. If you forgot to bring something the teacher would often give you a dictionary to read so I always remembered to bring something. Often I had a few spares in case a mate forgot to bring something.

Our School Emblem - Source
     Most days we had 5 periods that were an hour long each. The first two were before recess, then two more periods, lunch, then one final period before it was time to head home. Unlike American schools, high schools in Australia had recess for about 20 minutes. It was a welcome break and gave us a chance to grab a snack, relax or play footy or handball on the playground. Lunch was about 45 minutes and everyone had lunch at the same time. We did not have a cafeteria (we called it the canteen) or seating inside, so we ate outside unless it was raining. There was ample seating outside and we all ended up claiming a spot that would be ours each day. It was the unwritten rule and most of the time it was respected. My mates and I usually hung out in the large courtyard (known as the quadrangle) and would play handball (which is similar to 4 square in America).

    Our class schedule was on a 10 day cycle and it could be a challenge to remember exactly where you were meant to be at any given time. We were given a class schedule but it would often get wet, ripped or lost before too long. You rarely had the same class at the same time two days in a row. For example, one day you would have math right before recess, the next day it would be after lunch and some days you wouldn't have it at all. Thankfully the whole grade would have math at the same time (same went for English and Science) so we could ask someone what subject we had that day if we forgot. You still had to remember which classroom it was in, since it was not always the same classroom, and once in a while it was in a random classroom on the other side of the school. This meant your best bet was to memorize the schedule or keep one to read. Elective classes were given one of three colours. For example, my German class was pink, computing studies was blue and geography was lilac. Every one in the grade had the same "colour" at the same time so as long as you remember which colour each of your elective was you could knew where to go if someone said you had blue next.
     Thursday was Sports Day which was my favourite day of the school week. On Thursday we were able to wear our sports uniform which was a navy blue polo shirt with the school emblem, navy blue shorts or pants and running shoes. We also only had four classes on Thursdays that were about 15 minutes shorter each so we had time to go play sports for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Twice a year we would all be able to select which sport we would like to sign up for Thursday afternoons. They had just about every sport you could think of. On sign up day the whole school would gather in the large courtyard and starting with the 12th graders each student would sign up for the sport of their choice as long as there was space. Some of the more popular sports would fill up pretty quickly, but even the 7th graders who were the last to select still had plenty of choices when it was there turn. I loved sports day as it gave me a chance to try many new sports that I would not have tried otherwise including archery, lawn bowls and tennis.

Well that was a typical day at my high school. I had a lot of fun and I even learned a few things during my 6 year stay. Some days I couldn't wait for it all to be over, but I look back now and have many great stories and memories from those days. 

What big differences do you notice between American/Canadian schools and Australian schools?


  1. My high school years were so long ago it's hard to remember! But those were the days when girls always wore skirts to school, no pants, that's how long ago it was.

  2. Dropping by on the A to Z. My high school days were long ago and like the comment above, we were allowed to wear shorts one day a year. Our classes didn't change nor did the rooms. I had seven periods because I was in band and choir. Looking back, it was fun. High school hasn't changed much but the attitudes have. I have a 7th grader who is looking forward to high school. I'm not sure I am.

  3. They had DEAR in middle school here. And in high school the homeroom was the same all four years with the same teacher. So there was a sense of continuity.

  4. 6 years of high school? 4 years here ..9th to 12th grade. --That's quite a full day! -- My kids' elementary school uses the DEAR program too.

  5. Visiting from A/Z; I enjoyed learning about high school in Australia. I liked the 20 minute recesses; I remember we had 7 minutes between classes and that was a challenge to get from one part of the school to another.


  6. This is so cool! I've never seen a husband and wife blogging team before (that work on the same blog). I don't really remember far enough back to high school. I probably graduated before you were born. Although, I was well into high school before the electric typewriters (remember those?) outnumbered the manual ones.

    Just saw that you have CAPTCHA on your comments, where folks have to enter an extra code? Might shy some folks off from commenting, though. Just FYI.

    LuAnn Braley
    AJ's Hooligans @AtoZChallenge
    Back Porchervations

  7. Interesting railroad classrooms. My American kid is currently going to Griffith University in Australia as an exchange student.


  8. I would have failed for sure if our classes had been scheduled like yours were. Mine were the same every day of the school year and I didn't have to remember what color I was on any particular day. I just had to remember who to stay away from if I wanted a good day.

    PS Annie!

  9. My son has just started school here in Aus, and he's loving every moment. We are sending him to a "play-based learning" school, and it just looks stunning - very few desks; instead the kids have options of sofas, beanbags, cushions on the floor, or working at a desk if they really want to. It makes me want to go back to school :-)

    Thanks for visiting my blog :-)


  10. Private schools in the U.S. require uniforms, but not public schools. I think uniforms are probably dull here too. Must have been fun having classes in the rail cars. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  11. Visiting your blog from the A-Z Challenge, and you also visited mine as well yesterday :)
    At first, I thought well, hey your school wasn't that much different than mine (except for the uniforms) but the biggest difference is how crazy your day to day schedule was.
    I wish that we had so many options for gym, and that we only had it one day a week for a couple of hours. I think I would have enojoyed it much more if I had choices,

    I will check back later today to see your post for B! Have a good one :)


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