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Wednesday, December 15, 2010


In my travels overseas I am always interested to see local schools and I am often struck my the similarities and differences I observe to those back home.
As a lot of my blogland "friends" seem to be teachers or retired teachers I thought you might be interested to see what Primary schools are like in Queensland.
( If you think you will be bored by this topic it's time to go off and visit another blog NOW ! )

Our Primary school students begin school with Prep the year they turn 5 and most children are 12 when they finish primary school at the end of year 7.

Most Queensland schools are made from timber and the older ones are often what we call "high set" meaning the classrooms are often upstairs with empty space underneath which is used for eating lunch, shade and wet weather play.

In some more modern schools these areas have been utilised for classrooms.

The most recent design is for sprawling low set designs

modules, joined by covered walkways 

often with flat rooves.

A very small number of older, usually inner city, schools look like this.

Inside I have observed classrooms look similar where ever you go,

with brightly coloured wall decoration and shelving, carpeted floors

and fans in place of heating. I'm very pleased to say that many schools now have air-conditioning.
I have very unpleasant memories of 36C temperatures and 28 hot eleven year olds crammed into their seats after lunch break. It doesn't matter how hot it is it seems children, boys especially, have to run around like lunatics in their playtime !!! ( sometimes the "perfume" from these hot bodies could knock you over when you enter a classroom !)

Furniture varies but is usually individual with a small storage drawer underneath each desk.

Outside is where the major differences become evident.

Our schools have large areas of outdoor, usually grassed, places to play.

These grassed areas usually comprise a large oval for football, cricket, softball, soccer

as well as all manner of athletic pursuits and treed areas for children to play all manner of games.

Trees are employed for shade

but shade covers are employed too.

Any sealed outdoor areas are used for all manner of purposes including basketball, netball and handball courts. 

Some schools have their own swimming pool.

Lunch is usually brought from home and eating time is supervised in a shady area.
Every school has a "tuckshop" manned by mothers on a voluntary basis where children usually order from a menu and have their order delivered to their classroom in a paper bag. Tuckshops are often only open once or twice a week.

Most children wear school uniforms to school.

and they are designed to be comfortable in the hot weather.

There are usually several options to choose from with polo type shirts and shorts being the most popular choice for both boys and girls.

Teachers clothing is varied but usually fairly casual with more "dressy" options sometimes seen in city schools.

Hats are a very important part of school uniforms

with a " no hat, no play" rule usually in place in all schools.

Sunglasses are beginning to make an appearance too.

So there you have it, sort of in a nutshell. Hope I haven't bored you to tears.


PS. I know that there are issues with publishing photos of children on the internet but as all of today's photos are all from school sites on the internet I figure they are already out there.


  1. Yet anonther post which helps us to see and understand what your country is like. How very different it all looks to the sort of schools we have here many of which are in old buildings. The thing which strikes me most is the space which your schools have not a small asphalt playground but large areas of grass for play although I guess city schools would be more like ours? The children look so different to ours too in their uniforms not a warm coat or a mac to be seen!!

    Thanks for sharing this with us.


  2. Jane,
    We don't have many inner city schools as people live out of the city in the suburbs here. The few who do live in the inner city areas are older, retired folk who live in high-rise units or young professionals who don't have kids.

  3. Enjoyed your post Helsie! There is a lot of common sense to your schools.

  4. How lovely! I am sending my freind Silve over, she is a retired teacher and will find htis interesting.

  5. Helsie - the great difference I think is that you have plenty of space and also that your towns were not built back in medieval days with small buildings all close together as many of ours were! It's interesting that you all live in the suburbs (our suburbs are still very built up not at all like yours seem to be) and one of the things we noticed and liked in France was that people do live in the cities right in the centres and so there is not that empty feeling that many of our towns have because the streets are empty once the shops are closed. Vive le difference eh?!


  6. Well I found that interesting Helen. I was brewing a cheeky sideswipe at you for publishing pictures of children but your rider at the end removed that possibility. Here on the radio this week I heard a discussion about how some parents have been prevented from taking pictures of their own children in nativity plays!

    I like the fact that male Australian teachers don't usually have to wear suits and ties at work. Here schools will often insist on formal wear - even if the weather is sweltering as it was in June. Regarding codes of dress, common sense is frequently in short supply I find. Mind you I wouldn't want to wear one of those floppy hats! I'd look ridiculous and besides my head is so big I doubt they'd stock one in my size.

  7. That was very interesting, I do like the room crammed with fans, that really brings it home just how hot Summers are for you over there.

  8. Yorkshire Pudding,
    If you are a teacher here you have no choice about wearing a hat - and a proper shady one at that. Can't make kids wear a hat if you don't wear one yourself!!

  9. ... and even when I was at primary school -50 ish years ago - the male teachers didn't wear suits! Today you will never see a teacher in a tie either. Just shorts and sneakers and an open necked shirt.

  10. Ah!!!! Such memories - thanks Helen!

  11. As my head is so big, would the school governors pay to have an oversized hat specially made or would I have to make my own out of cardboard? As it seems to be the custom for Australian teachers to "get down with the kids", would I also have to play hopscotch at breaktime? I'm worried in case my massive hat bounced off and injured small children.

  12. YP,
    At breaktime you would be somewhere in the blazing sun thanking your lucky stars for one of those hats and refereeing an informal game of football (possibly soccer but probably rugby league )!!! We have plenty of men with big heads ( boofheads ) here . EVERYTHING is big in Australia !!!

  13. I think I could have looked at any of these buildings and guessed it was a school. They all look 'schoolish', don't they?
    In the UK we have impractical, formal uniforms that are only suitable for dry, cool weather. Any hint of cold or heat and they are useless. These uniforms of yours look more like cub or brownie uniforms but are more practical and appealing to children than ours.

  14. EVERYTHING is big? Women's mouths? What about the little Ashes urn? By the way, I hope Tony and Brett are enjoying the test series!

  15. I really enjoyed seeing this information. Your schools really accommodate your climate. My grandchildren will be going to school in NSW when the time comes so it was interesting to see some of the differences from schools here in Canada.

  16. Male primary teachers are desperately needed in primary schools. The job however, can be perceived as one not suitable for men. This perception is outdated and inaccurate and puts a lot of potentially great Male Primary Teachers off from joining the profession.