I loved my time in Australia, I spent a year working as a Primary School Casual Relief Teacher in Melbourne, Victoria. I worked in Special Schools and Autism Specific Schools. The application process and experience will differ from state to state in Australia, I can write about my experience in Melbourne, Victoria and some tips and links for anyone planning on going there. Hopefully it is helpful to anyone considering going to Australia to teach.
I have divided the post into these titles to hopefully make it easier to navigate:
Before You Go, School Calendar, Registering in Melbourne, Documents, Securing a Job Before You Go, Working as a Casual Relief Teacher or Education Support Staff, Day to Day, Car vs Public Transport, Useful Links
Before You Go
No matter which state you are planning on going to, make sure you register or start the registration process before you leave. The process can be quite long and there can be a lot of back and forth no matter how thorough you are. Each state has a different teaching council and different registration system for teachers. It would be beneficial to know which state you plan on teaching in before hand as it costs about AU$300 to register. If you are unsure about which state you will end up in, you could always register in more than one to cover yourself as the process could take up to 6 months. If you are registered as a teacher in two states, some have an agreement where there would be a waiver of fees which would be worth looking into. New South Wales and Victoria have an agreement, link below:
For anyone who is unsure of which states the big cities are in:
Melbourne – state of Victoria
Sydney – state of New South Wales
Brisbane – state of Queensland
Perth – Western Australia
It is helpful to know the breakdown of the school year before you go. Their school year starts at the end of January/start of February and runs until around the 20th December, they have a little over a month off in December/January as their summer holidays. Throughout the year, there are 3 x fortnight breaks; one around Easter time, one in July and one around October time.
Registering in Melbourne, Victoria
My experience is in Melbourne so I will explain the registration system for Melbourne here, other states have similar systems but none are identical processes.
Here is a link to the teaching council website for Victoria:
To register as a teacher in Victoria you need to have a teaching degree which was 4 full years in duration and/or have a Masters degree. If you are registering, remember that January is the busiest time for registrations as it is the beginning of the school year and there will likely be long waits.
I had a 3 year Bachelor of Education from St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and a Post Graduate Diploma from DCU, after discussion with the Victorian Teaching Council I was reassured that the Post Grad would be adequate to register. After waiting for 4 months for my registration, I was told the Post Grad didn’t have enough credits. If anyone is reading this who is in a similar situation, there is a loop-hole. If are a registered teacher in New Zealand, you can register as a teacher in Australia through ‘mutual recognition’ for a smaller fee than the general registration. Luckily the registration system in New Zealand is much quicker and can all be done online. I had to register in New Zealand, when I received all of my documents in the post, I could then submit a new application in Australia to register as a teacher through ‘mutual recognition’. It sounds more complex than it is and hopefully this explanation shows why it is so beneficial to start the process before you set off on your travels.
Luckily I was able to work in Education Support (ES) (equivalent of a Special Needs Assistant) while I tried to sort out my registration. Unfortunately, the pay is roughly half of what it is for a teacher. I did try an office job for a while but it just wasn’t for me, I was much happier working as in Education Support.
There are a lot of documents you need to gather for your application and it will differ from person to person and state to state. You will need to get your documents certified, I would definitely recommended getting 2 copies certified and bringing a spare set with you to Australia, just incase. I did end up needing a second set.
I will give a rough outline of certified documents I needed when applying below:
- Degree Certificates
- Degree Transcripts
- Teaching Practice Dates and Grades (I didn’t have a list with the dates, I emailed the college with my details and they kindly sent me out a headed letter)
- English Language Competence document
- Proof of Identity (visa, passport, driver’s license)
- Overseas Criminal Record Check/Police Clearance
- Change of name evidence
- Professional references
- Statement from employer confirming experience/length of service (if you have 5 or more years teaching experience you will be put on a higher rate of pay if you provide proof)
Securing a Job Before You Go
This isn’t something that I did as my registration wasn’t complete and I wanted to have the freedom to work as a Casual Relief Teacher. When I was in Australia, there were a lot of jobs, particularly in Special schools who were willing to do ‘Skype’ interviews with people who weren’t in Australia yet. It was definitely possible to secure a job in a special school around December time via ‘Skype’ and some were even offering sponsorship. Have a look at the following websites where jobs are posted for Victoria:
Working as a Casual Relief Teacher or Education Support Staff
Agencies are the way relief teachers and relief education support staff get their work in Australia, schools are registered with a particular agency and arrange all of their casual relief teachers through them.
When you get to Australia, I was advised to register with a few different agencies at the beginning, see which one you like the best/gives you the most work/has schools you like and then choose one and stay with them. If you are only with one agency and available every day, the agency will know that and begin to call on you more regularly and you will move to the top of their list. If you get on well in a school, some schools request the same people time and time again from the agency.
When registering with an agency you have to meet for a face to face interview, which is short and more of a get to know you chat with a few teaching questions thrown in. They take your photo and make you an ID card for their agency.
I mainly worked for ANZUK (link at end of blog post) as they worked with a lot of special education schools in the area I was living.
Day to Day
Each agency may differ slightly in their day to day systems but in general, you may need to log onto their App to say that you are available for work at 6.30am each morning. Then you may get a call anytime between 6.30am and 8.30am in general. When you log on and register that you are available for work in the morning time you are added to their list of people to call for work. Even if you have marked that you are available but you have not logged on that morning, you will be at the bottom of their list. Essentially the system is to make sure that you are awake! The App is like a calendar and you can mark off the days you will not be available for work too. Some agencies use a texting system.
A lot of schools have a casual dress code, in spite of what the agencies tell you, which you will become familiar with when you have been in a school once or twice. One thing a lot of schools that I was in are strict on is closed toe shoes.
As a teacher, when being asked to work for the day you could be asked to cover a class teacher or a teacher of a ‘specialist subject’. The types of specialist teachers could vary from school to school but in general there may be: Physical Education, Music, Drama, Art, Dance, Language. When the class is with the ‘specialist teacher’ the class teacher is given some planning time. As a casual relief teacher, during this time if you are covering a class teacher, depending on the subject, the school could ask you to help the specialist teacher or allocate you to another class/group at that time. I particularly enjoyed covering ‘specialist teachers’ as you got to meet so many more staff members and students and get a real feel for the school.
Car vs Public Transport
A lot of people recommend getting a car when working as a casual relief teacher in Australia, I had one for a while and it was very handy to have short commute times. The downfall of having a car was that you may get a call later in the morning as it won’t take you as long to get to the schools or that you may be given schools that are further away or awkward to get to on public transport. When I had a car, I actually missed using public transport. For bigger schools there would be a lot of people working as Casual Relief Teachers or in Education Support who you would meet on your way to and from the school on public transport. It was a nice way to meet and get to know people in a similar situation.
Salary rates in Victoria:
Teaching Council website for New Zealand:
Teaching Council website for Victoria:
Links to Teaching Agencies in Victoria:
Free Agency Education Recruitment:
I loved my time working and living in Australia and feel I have become a better teacher because of it. It was invaluable to get to see how different schools and different classrooms were run. I loved the laid back lifestyle and the freedom of working as a casual relief teacher.
I hope my experience of registering as a teacher and teaching in Australia will be helpful to some people who are considering the move. If you have any further questions after reading this, drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you.