4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/07/2010  Reissue
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1 The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia varies between states and territories. In 2008 the Northern Territory moved to exclusively include Year 7 students in secondary education. The two basic patterns evident in current formal schooling in Australia are illustrated below:

  • In New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory primary education comprises a Pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 6. In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Pre-Year 1 is called Kindergarten, in Victoria and Tasmania it is called Preparatory and in Northern Territory it is called Transition. Secondary education comprises Years 7 to 12 for these jurisdictions.
  • In Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia primary education comprises a Pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 7. In Queensland Pre-year 1 is called Preparatory, in South Australia it is called Reception, and in Western Australia it is called Pre-Primary. Secondary education comprises Years 8 to 12 for these jurisdictions.
Diagram: Schooling structures across Australia, 2009

2 Each state and territory also has a preschool sector which is separate from primary and secondary schooling. Data on preschool education within schools have been excluded from primary enrolments and staffing estimates in this publication.

3 Variations to the structure of schooling also occur over time. See Explanatory notes, paragraphs 9 to 11, for examples of changes to schooling structures.


4 The age at which children may attend school is the subject of separate legislation within each jurisdiction. In 2009, the age at which a child's attendance at school becomes compulsory was 6 years for all states and territories except Tasmania, where it was 5 years. In practice, the majority of children start earlier, with minimum starting ages restricting enrolment to children aged between four and a half to five years at the beginning of the (Pre-year 1) school year.

5 In 2009, children were required to be at school (or undertaking the school curriculum in the case of home schooling) until:
  • reaching 15 years of age (NSW, NT and ACT) or
  • reaching 16 years of age (Vic., SA and Tas.) or
  • reaching 16 years of age or completing year 10 (Qld) or
  • the end of the year in which students turn 17 (WA).
  • From January 2009, students in South Australia are required to be in full-time education or training until the age of 17, or until they gain a qualification (whichever comes first). This is different from the compulsory school age which stays at 16.

6 From January 2010
  • students in Victoria will be required to attend school until the age of 17
  • students in the ACT will be required to remain in education until achieving Year 10 and then will be required to participate in full-time education, training or employment until completing Year 12 or equivalent, or reaching age 17, whichever occurs first.