Thursday, 28 July 2011

Good days and bad days...

Today was a good day!  We went to visit our new valley again where we will be living next month and had a look at two schools and one kinder.

At the one school Silke told the headteacher: 'I have nits, my mummy is trying to get the nits out of my hair.'  Hence why yesterday was a bad day as any nit combing day would be...

So far we liked most of the schools we visited.  Which makes it a bit tricky to choose.  Do we just go for the closest school, we can walk to school and it's nice and small - in Prep only about 15 children per class?  Or do we go for the bigger, higher achieving school which is a 10 but probably closer 20 min drive away in the morning traffic?

But I have decided to keep Mieke in a public primary school and then apply for 2 private high schools, that way we save loads of money until then!

The schools are different here than the UK in the following ways:

The class sizes are smaller (can vary between 15 and 25).
They don't have school dinners but normally have a canteen open a few times a week.
Uniforms can only be bought at school and seem really expensive.
Although the kids are in their own home groups they work across 2 year groups, for instance Year 1 and 2, 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 work together.  This gives opportunity for children who find the work easier to go ahead as well as give time for the slower ones to catch up.
They are not as rigid with going to school at a definite age like the UK - for instance children can go to school if they turn 5 by the end of April in the year that they go to school, but you are free to keep them back as well.  Most of the schools I spoke to suggested I keep Silke back until next year, so she'll be going back to Kindy as they call pre-school here.
In the area where I am looking for schools (East / North East of Melbourne) there aren't catchment areas, so I am free to send my children to any public school I like!  This makes it good for me but quite tricky for schools as it is difficult to plan from the one year to the next.

The schools seem well equipped with interactive white boards / televisions, computers and basket ball courts!  Most of them have an art room, music room and language room where they learn LOTE (language other than English).  The schools I've looked at offered Indonesion, Italian, Chinese or Japanese.

The classes are mostly open plan though so I think this will be something for Mieke to get used to.

Things I like so far in Australia:

Watermelon and Avos - delicious just like in SA
Chocolate Milk and Strawberry milk come in 2 litre bottles!!
U turns are encouraged.
Parking is free at most shopping centers and the parking bays are big enough for our wagon.
They pack your bags for you when grocery shopping.  Hooray!!  I know I'm sorry but I'm lazy...

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