Schooling and education in Australia - book in early!
When is school compulsory?
School is compulsory between the age of 6 and 16 or 17 (Year 1 to 10).
Formal schooling includes:
- a preparatory year before Year 1 (not compulsory but almost always taken)
- primary schooling: 6 or 7 years – Years 1-6 or 1-7
- secondary schooling: 5 or 6 years – Years 7-12 or 8-12.
What are the differences in schooling between Australian states?
The education system in each Australian state is run by that state's government. Some of the main differences are what each level is called (for example Prep in Queensland is the same as Kindergarten – or K - in NSW).
Another difference is that primary school is from Grades 1-6 in some states and from 1-7 in others, which means a Grade 7 student will be in high school in some states but in primary school in other states.
Australian Education System: State by State
|NT||Preschool||Transition||Grade 1-7||Grade 8-12|
||Kindergarten||Prep||Grade 1-7||Grade 8-12|
|SA||Preschool/Kindy||Reception||Grade 1-7||Grade 8-12|
|TAS||Kindergarten||Preparatory||Grade 1-6||Grade 7-12|
||Kindergarten||Preparatory||Grade 1-6||Grade 7-12|
|WA||Kindergarten||Pre-Primary||Grade 1-7||Grade 8-12|
How old does my child have to be when they start school?
The age your child needs to be to start school varies from state to state. Although prep is not compulsory it is considered to be the start of formal full-time schooling.
Many parents chose to send their children to preschool or pre-prep when they are 3-4 years old - in preparation for formal schooling. Some private preschools/kindy may have different rules for enrolment, and if places are available may let you enrol a younger child (one that turns four later in the year, for example). However, those children won't be able to attend formal schooling until they meet the enrolment requirements for the Preparatory Year.
|ACT||Must be 4 by April 30 in the year they enrol in Preschool||Must be 5 by April 30 in the year they enrol in Kindergarten|
|NSW||Must be 4 by July 31 in the year they enrol in Preschool||Must be 5 by July 31 in the year they enrol in Kindergarten|
|NT||Must be 4 by June 30 in the year they enrol in Preschool||Must be 5 by June 30 in the year they enrol in Transition|
|QLD||Must be 4 by June 30 in the year they enrol in Kindergarten||Must be 5 by June 30 in the year they enrol in Prep.|
|SA||Must be 4 by May 1 in the year they enrol in
||Must be 5 by May 1 in the year they enrol in Reception|
|TAS||Must be 4 by January 1 in the year they enrol in Kindergarten||Must be 5 by January 1 in the year they enrol in Preparatory|
|VIC||Must be 4 by April 30 in the year they enrol in Kindergarten
||Must be 5 by April 30 in the year they enrol in Preparatory|
|WA||Must be 4 by June 30 in the year they enrol in
||Must be 5 by June 30 in the year they enrol in Pre-Primary|
What else do I need to know?
Basically the most important thing is to get in early – especially if you want to enrol your child in private school.
Even if you don’t know where you’ll be living when your child is due to start school you should investigate your options and put their names down where necessary. Some waiting lists at private schools are so long you’d be well advised to have your child’s name down at birth!
Education in state schools is free. Non-state schools and pre-preps are generally fee paying.
More useful links:
ACT – Department of Education and Training
Catholic Education Office – Canberra and Goulburn
The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT
NSW Department of Education and Training
Catholic Education Commission NSW
Catholic Education Office Sydney
The Association of Independent Schools of NSW
NT Department of Education and Training
Northern Territory Catholic Education Office
Association of Independent Schools of the Northern Territory
Queensland Catholic Education Commission
Independent Schools Queensland
Home schooling in Queensland
Department of Education and Children’s Services
Catholic Education Office South Australia
South Australian Independent Schools
Department of Education - Tasmania
Catholic Education Tasmania
Association of Independent Schools of Tasmania
Christian Schools Tasmania
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
Catholic Education Commission of Victoria
Independent Schools Victoria
Department of Education Western Australia
Catholic Education Western Australia
Association of Independent Schools Western Australia