Australian School Systems

Education Systems can vary greatly across different states and territories within Australia. We have compiled some information about the different states and territories and their respective schooling systems to assist you in the transition. There are also some useful links to Education websites for further information.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

In the Australian Capital Territory your child must enrol in Primary school if aged 5 or turning 5 on or before 30th April of that year. Primary School goes from Years 1 to 6.

Secondary School commences in Year 7 to 12. Secondary students who continue through the post-compulsory years will receive a Year 12 Certificate which lists all subjects and results gained. For those eligible there will also be a Tertiary Entrance Statement.

For more information visit:

New South Wales (NSW)

The New South Wales schooling system is very similar to that of Queensland however there are some minor differences, these are listed below.

For entry into pre-school the child must be four years old by July 31st in the year of attendance. Secondary School starts in Year 7 in NSW through to Year 12.

The examination system also differs in NSW. They follow a system called the Higher School Certificate (HSC). The end result for students is a combination of their accumulative subject results and the results from the HSC exams. The HSC exams are more in-depth examinations on each of their subjects.

For more information visit:

Northern Territory (NT)

In the Northern Territory education is similar to that of Queensland. Pre-school starts at the age of four. A transition year (or preparatory) takes place when your child is approximately 5 years of age. Primary school starts at the age of 6 through till the age of 11.

Secondary School begins at age 12 and carries on through to 18 years (generally). Senior Students (in years 11 and 12 of school) will be encouraged to complete a Northern Territory Certificate of Education. There is a variety of subjects applicable to the certificate and results will be measured on the students level of achievement in the subjects.

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Queensland (QLD)

In Queensland , children must be four years old by the last day of December in the year before enrolment. You can put your child's name on a waiting list at a preschool during the year the child turns three. Preschool aims to ease the transition into primary using active learning techniques. Children are enrolled in Year 1 of Primary School in January. The children will need to be five years old by the last day of December of the previous year.

In Queensland , in 2007, Prep replaced preschool. The preparatory year is offered in primary schools and is an early education program that is not compulsory. To enroll in Prep, children must turn 5 by the 30th of June in the year they are enrolled. To enter Year 1 children must turn 6 before the 30th of June in the year they are enrolled. Instead of Prep, parents may choose to keep their children at home or to send them to an alternative early childhood education and care service before Year 1.

Students may enrol in their first year of secondary school after seven years of primary education. They will continue from Year 8 through to Year 12 at secondary school. School is generally compulsory until Year 10, at this time you may assess whether the student will progress to the Senior years or may find employment of some kind.

At secondary school there are is a wide curriculum designed to encompass all the talents and interests of students. As the years progress in secondary school you will have an even wider selection of subjects to prepare you for either the workforce or further tertiary education.

To be considered for University or TAFE entrance you will be required to sit the Queensland Core Skills Test (QCST). The QCST tests students on a range of skills through the mediums of creative writing, short answer and multiple choice tests. The result of this test along with your subject results are averaged out according to both your school and individual performance. Students will then be awarded a rank (for immediate TAFE entrance) or an Overall Performance (OP) for immediate university entrance. The rank will range from 1 - 100; and an OP will be range from a 1 - 25 (one being the best). Each University will classify a degree as having a certain OP for entrance. The more specialist the degree the better OP will be needed to gain entrance. Tafe uses a similar system.

For more information visit:

South Australia (SA)

In South Australia pre-schooling starts from the ages of 3 or 4 years depending on the date of birth and level of development of the child. South Australia primary schooling takes place from Year 1 - 7 (ages approximately 6 - 11).

Secondary Schooling is from Year 8 - 12. During the two senior post-compulsory years (year 11 and 12) students will be encouraged to strive for the South Australian Certificate of Education. Similar to that of other states it is a measure of their results in specified subjects.

For more information visit:

Tasmania (TAS)

In Tasmania you may enrol your child in Kindergarten if that child turns 4 on or before January the 1st in the year they start. A child that turns 5 on or before the 1st January must start school that year! Children will start in the Preparatory Year. Children will attend Primary School from Year 1 - 6. High School takes place from Years 7 - 12.

Students who enrol in post-compulsory education will take subjects that contribute to the Tasmanian Certificate of Education. This certificate is measured by the student's accumulative results in Board-approved subjects.

For more information visit:

Victoria (Vic)

Again Victoria has a similar education system to the other states, it is most like NSW. Any differences are listed below.

To commence Prep school your child must turn 5 by the 30th April the year of enrollment. Secondary school students participate in a similar exam to that of NSW except it is called a Victoria Certificate of Education (VCE).

For more information visit:

Western Australia (WA)

In Western Australia education is again similar to QLD and NT.

Kindergarten, a fun learning facility created to initiate children into a school environment, begins at the age of 3 or 4 (as long as the child will turn 4 by June 30th of that year). Pre-Primary begins at the age of 4 or 5 (as long as the child with turn 5 by June 30th of that year). Primary commences at the age of six and is from Years 1 - 7.

Secondary School commences in Year 8 of their school life and continues to Year 12. Senior Students will be encouraged to aim for the Western Australia Certificate of Education; much the same as VIC and NT the certificate is a measure of the student's results in specified subjects.

For more information visit:

Home Schooling

Home schooling is a legal option, available to children across all States and Territories of Australia. Home schooling offers parents and guardians an alternative to state or private schooling. Parents take on the primary responsibility for their child's education. (Home schooling should not be mistaken with distance education, in which children are educated by an educational institution).

Home schooling is governed by the Education Act, however, the legislative policies vary greatly for each state. Parents are required to comply with the guidelines provided for the state in which they live.

For more information visit:

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