After teaching here for 3 years, I can’t think of an Australian school where the students do not wear a uniform.
We seem to gauge teacher-dress by student dress, no matter what society you are from. So I’ll explain explain what you need to pack when you’re moving from Canada and coming to teach in Australia, based on what the students are wearing in this school.
Private (Independent) Schools:
If you are working at an independent school, you will have strict dress code
to adhere to. Students will be wearing blazers, ties and full dress shirts and pants.
Thongs style shoes are not allowed. Any teachers who teach in a lab must wear close-toed shoes. You are usually not allowed to have facial piercings (seemingly tattoos are more acceptable in Australia however).
You will have to wear a suit (with a tie if you are a man). Women wear the female equivalent, but somehow the clothes that are made for us are STILL not that professional-looking in Australia. Just try to buy a non-turtleneck top that does not have frills or a neck low enough to show both your cleavage and the women next to you.
You will see evidence of Australia’s 1950 mindset in their school uniforms: girls are expected to wear dresses/skirts and boys pants/shorts. And nobody argues about this (and if they do they are made fun of–by adults! …it’s enough to make you want to Guy-Smiley-hit-your-head-on-the-piano-keys).
Unlike Ontario, Catholic Schools are considered Private schools in Australia. You will have to look “professional” which is dressier than “business casual”.
NOTE: This genre of school gets a bit confusing, because to Canadians, “independent” or “private” schools are schools where the families pay tuition.
However, Australian schools are more similar to British schools, in that they use the term “public” school to mean “private” schools. Thus, your principal might tell you that you will be working at an APS school (Australian Public School) which is in fact, a tuition-paying school.
In Public Schools the student uniform is at least a shirt and dress pants.
The dress code for public/government schools is often area-dependent.
So make sure you err on the side of “too professional”, rather than have to buy a bunch of suits and tie-outfits over here.
Clothing is expensive, and the material and style is NOT as nice as Canadian clothing.
Sometimes you might get a school that has a limited dress code, from casual (jeans) to business casual.
But most often Public schools have all the same standards (and finances) as independent/private schools, including the same dress code.
Private Schools vs. Government Schools
This is the way it was explained to me:
Tuition-Paying schools are subsidized by the government in Australia. Government schools could probably be on more equal footing if this was not the case (some schools are really impoverished).
Thus, some government schools (primarily those that are situated in higher socio-economic class areas) have learned to cope by having very strong parent associations which allow the school to purchase more resources. They are effectively government schools which are running like a private school.
Does this happen in Canada?