4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2012 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/02/2013   
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Structure of Primary and Secondary Schooling

The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia varies between states and territories and over time; see the Explanatory Notes for information on changes to schooling structures over time. The two basic patterns evident in formal schooling in Australia in 2012 are:

    • Primary school consisting of Pre-Year 1 to Year 6, and secondary school consisting of Year 7 to Year 12 in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory; and
    • Primary school consisting of Pre-Year 1 to Year 7 and secondary school consisting of Year 8 to Year 12 in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.

Pre-Year 1 is known as:
    • Kindergarten in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
    • Preparatory in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania
    • Reception in South Australia
    • Pre-Primary in Western Australia
    • Transition in Northern Territory; and
    • Foundation Year in Australian Curriculum.

Each state and territory has a preschool year (Year 1 minus 2), however these are excluded from the scope of the National Schools Statistics Collection. Data on preschool education is available annually through Preschool Education, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4240.0).

Age Structure of Primary and Secondary Schooling

The age at which children must attend school is the subject of separate legislation within each state and territory. In 2012, the age at which a child's attendance at school was compulsory under state and territory legislation, was 5 years for Tasmania and 6 years for all other states and territories.

Generally, minimum starting ages restrict enrolment to children aged between four and a half and five years at the beginning of the year looking to commence Pre-Year 1. In South Australia, most students start school at age five, and it is common for children to start school at the beginning of the school term following their fifth birthday. Students in South Australia who commenced in Term 4 in 2012 will not have been at school on the Schools Census date, and are not included in this publication.

Additionally, as of January 1, 2010, the National Youth Participation Requirement came into effect for each state and territory. The National Youth Participation Requirement includes:

    • a mandatory requirement for all young people to participate in schooling (meaning in school or an approved equivalent) until completion of Year 10; and
    • a mandatory requirement for all young people who have completed Year 10 to participate full-time (at least 25 hours per week) in education, training or employment, or a combination of these activities, until age 17.

For the purpose of the National Youth Participation Requirement, education or training will be considered full-time if the provider considers the course to be full-time or if it includes 25 hours per week of formal course requirements. Exemptions from the National Youth Participation Requirements will continue in line with existing state and territory practice. For further information, see: