This week’s Mailbox Monday post is about waiting for GCSE results before moving to Australia.

This was a difficult one for me to answer, being from the States, I had no idea what GCSE was.

After questioning several of my UK expat friends, I finally sorted it out but then the difficulty was understanding secondary schools in NSW and how they compared to the UK.

In my answer, I have listed all the resources I came across online about secondary schools in NSW. Take a look.

But before we get to the question and answer portion of this post…

What is Mailbox Mondays?

Every Monday I pick a question from you along with my reply straight out of my inbox to share with everyone here on Sydney Moving Guide.

I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I will do my best to point you in the right direction or help you with your research as I know there is a lot of noise out there on the interwebs and good resources are hard to find.

The aim of Mailbox Mondays is to start conversations on topics you want to know about. So please leave a comment, or ask a question, or share more info from your experience, moving to and living in Australia, in the comment section below.

Alright, let’s get started.

Today’s Question:

Hi Lauren,

We will be moving to Sydney soon. I have two boys, one is 15 years old and in year 10 and the youngest is 11 and in year 6.

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Would it be appropriate to take them to Australia now or should I wait until my oldest finishes his GCSE’s?

Thanks for your help.


Lauren’s Reply

Hi Cathy,

This has taken some sorting out.

In a nutshell, don’t wait for your son to finish the GCSE because it doesn’t mean a thing here in Australia.

Now, if you end up moving back to the UK BEFORE your son completes his secondary schooling in Australia, BEFORE he gets his Higher School Certificate (HSC) here, then the GCSE counts for something back in the UK. If you are certain that you will be in Australia for the next few years and he will be able to complete his HSC here then don’t wait around for the GCSE.

In fact, the sooner your son can get registered in a school here in Australia the better since he is in year 10. In NSW, Years 11 and 12 are similar to the A levels in the UK but a broader range of subjects are studied in years 11 and 12 than A levels.

Year 10 is when students select subjects for the next two years.

Many universities in NSW hold information days (or nights) for Year 10 students and their parents, and discuss which HSC subjects. If your son is planning on going to uni in Australia then he might want to be here to participate.

Since you have a 482 visa you will have to apply for school through the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC).

On the DEC site you will notice that it states:

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“Entry Requirement for Senior Secondary School (Year 11 and Year 12) in NSW, a NSW School Certificate (study up to Year 10) or its equivalent in Australia or overseas, with good passing grades in the main academic subjects.”

I’m guessing that the GCSE is equivalent but even so, what will happen is your son will finish his Year 10 in the UK (I’m guessing finishing up around July 2015), take the GCSE, move to Australia then start up school again in Year 10 until December 18th, 2015.

Waiting for the GCSE having no effect on what year he ends up in or his course of study.

Remember that the school year in NSW started January 27th of this year and ends on December 18th.

Here is a good website for more info on HSC.

I’m also attaching a few of the forms from the DEC website that you will need to look at for applying for school.

Hope this helps and doesn’t confuse things more.

All the best,


Forms from DEC website:

1. Application Form for Temporary Residents
2. Enrolment Procedures for Temporary Residents & Bridging Visa
3. Fees and Payment Information for Temporary Visa Holders