Key Differences between Teaching in Perth and Singapore

Hi Nix,

I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog. Your comments had trigger my own thinking on various issues from different perspectives. 

I am a beginning teacher in Singapore. In a couple of your posts, your guest blogger and yourself had shared that there are difference in the Singapore and Australia’s Education system, result oriented versus process oriented in the latter. Your also mentioned that there are quite a few ex-teachers in Perth and you have met some Sg teachers considering to migrate to Australia.

I would like know more about the Australia schools as a workplace. Will you/your contacts who have experience working in both Singapore and Australian schools be able to kindly share their thoughts?

Thank you for spending time to attend to this request. I look forward to read your posts.



Hi 'cher.

Perhaps I can share what little I know about Perth schools. I'll like to emphasize Perth, because Australia is just too big to generalise. Unlike the template stamped fashion of neighborhood schools and food court stalls across Singapore, public schools in just Perth alone are run differently among themselves and school culture can vary quite significantly too. Thus, this is not an easy question to answer specifically.

However I can highlight some key differences in general.

Teacher abuse

In Singapore schools, parents are clients. In Perth schools, parents are partners. Small difference, but it creates a butterfly effect on almost every aspect of a teacher's career and working experience. In Perth, professionals are given proper respect. For example in hospitals, there is a strict "No abuse" policy to protect hospital staff from the public. Any patient, visitor or external workers who abuse a staff in the hospital will be shown the door by the security. The customer is not always right.

I would imagine the same respect given to teachers in Perth, at least from my observation. Teachers here may not necessarily agree with me but if we are comparing to the level of respect given to teachers in Singapore, there is a stark contrast. In Singapore, the chances of you getting parents coming up demanding, interrogating and even threatening you is not exactly low. Perhaps, even almost an everyday affair for some. If you are unlucky enough, you get your unflattering photograph posted all over the Internet for putting a nice hair clip on the boy with long hair.

There is plenty of regular communication between parents and teachers here. Feedback is encouraged from both parties. It helps to foster a good relationship in a small community setting.

Holiday, with no fine prints

When you are teaching in a school in Perth, you go for your two weeks or a month school holiday with the children. It is an entitlement. The teachers do not stay back for CCAs (CCA for ghosts?) or whatever extra or special services required by the principal in schools in Singapore.

Classroom size

According to this publication [link] in 2014, the average classroom size in WA are as follow;

19 students in kindergarten
23 students in pre-primary
22 students in years 1 to 3
28 students in years 4 to 7
26 students in years 8 to 10.

I'm not sure what are the classroom size in Singapore these days. So you do the comparison, Venessa. On top of that, there are nearly 800 public schools in WA to cater to Perth's 1.8 million population. Thus, schools are generally small. There are usually 2 classes per level. Schools with 3 classes per level is already considered big here. 

The teaching teacher teach

One of the key difference between teaching in both countries are the administration work given to teachers. You will not be expected to head multiple committees, CCAs and what nots. Other minor day-to-day administration work such as collection of money from students, food or logistic matters etc. will be handled by school staff. In a nutshell, you are doing what a teacher should be doing, teaching with minimal distractions. It is not a monkey hunting, talent contest freak show here.

Working hours

Teachers knock off at 3.30-4pm on most days unless something crops up.


It varies from school to school but in general they are kept to the minimum and short. 1 meeting per week no longer than 30 mins each session is normal.

Other perks of being small

Some may not see this as an advantage. You know, there are an unbelievably large number of Singaporeans who think Perth is 'boring'. So I am not going to be surprised if teachers in Singapore love the fanfare and hippy hype surrounding their fancy school. 

Speech day is a grand affair for even the simplest of school in Singapore. You get performances, percussion and parade. For the branded schools, you even get a wedding dinner after the children happily leave early where the teaching staff mingles with the men-in-white guests of honour attending, reminding the school that the marriage between politics and education must always be strong.

In Perth schools, we call it the Founders Day. Celebrations can be a simple sausage sizzle. A school celebrating their 125th anniversary [link] two years ago by simply sharing a birthday cake and spent the afternoon playing games. Granted the example was a regional school, there is no significant differences for schools in Perth metropolitan.

A close friend of mine revealed that the school principal where her son is enrolled remembers the name of every child in his school.

I've shared my limited knowledge on this with you. Hope the information will go a long way.

Good luck


1 comment:

  1. Hello Nix,

    1) There is protected time for teachers during the 4 term breaks in the school year, a few days each during that one week in March and in September, two weeks in June, and 3 weeks in December.

    During that time, except for scheduled CCA camps and overseas learning journeys / international exchanges, public school teachers go for their extended holidays, many overseas.

    2) While classroom numbers of 40 do still exist, teachers often work with smaller classes throughout the day, not just for supplementary afternoon lessons of a handful to a dozen, but also subject classes that are banded into tens or twenties, or with, say, a third of a large class taking Design and Technology, another third taking Food and Nutrition, and the rest taking Art (including Digital Art for niche neighbourhood schools).

    3) Besides the permanent full-time teachers and their multiple workloads which you speak of, there are also teachers on partial workload, and adjunct teachers who work only during school terms, and for limited hours daily.

    4) Meetings: this week in my current school, we had a 1 hour meeting mid-week with sausage spaghetti announcing the upcoming new PSLE scoring system and Sec 1 admission process, and another 1 hour at week's end which was a health talk on teacher voice care.