4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2017   
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APPENDIX DIFFERENCES IN SCHOOLING STRUCTURES

STRUCTURE OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLING

The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia differs between jurisdictions.

In 2016, the two basic patterns in formal schooling in Australia were:

  • In all states and territories except South Australia, primary school was Pre-Year 1 to Year 6, and secondary school consisted of Year 7 to Year 12.
  • In South Australia, primary school consisted of Pre-Year 1 to Year 7 and secondary school consisted of Year 8 to Year 12.

Naming conventions for the first year of primary school (pre-Year 1) differ between states and territories. 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 the Northern Territory, and
  • Foundation Year in the Australian Curriculum.


In the year before Pre-Year 1, each state and territory has a preschool year (also known as Year 1 minus 2). These are excluded from the scope of the NSSC. Data on preschool education are available annually through Preschool Education, Australia (cat. no. 4240.0).


AGE STRUCTURE OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLING

The age at which children must attend school is the subject of specific legislation within each state and territory. In 2016, the minimum starting ages for Pre-Year 1 generally restricted enrolment to children aged between four and a half and five years at the beginning of the year.
  • New South Wales. Children must attend school from the age of six.
  • Victoria. Children must attend school from the age of six; however children turning five before 30 April may start school in that year.
  • Queensland. Children must attend school from the age of six years and six months.
  • South Australia. Children must attend school from the age of six; however children turning five before 1 May may start school in that year.
  • Western Australia. Children must start school from the beginning of the year if they are to reach the age of five years and six months during the year.
  • Tasmania. Children must attend school from the age of five.
  • Northern Territory. Children must attend school from the age of six.
  • Australian Capital Territory. Children must attend school from the age of six.


In addition, the National Youth Participation Requirement, which was effected through relevant state and territory legislation on 1 January 2010, 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 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 is 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 Requirement will continue in line with existing state and territory practice. For further information, see: <https://www.education.gov.au/compact-young-australians>

Information on changes to schooling structures over time is also available in the Explanatory Notes.