4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/03/2009   
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1 The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia varies between states and territories. In 2008 the Northern Territory has 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 NSW, Vic., Tas., NT and the ACT primary education comprises a Pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 6. In NSW and the ACT, Pre-Year 1 is called Kindergarten, in Vic. and Tas. it is called Preparatory and in NT it is called Transition. Secondary education comprises Years 7 to 12.
  • In Qld, SA, and WA primary education comprises a Pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 7. In Qld Pre-year 1 is called Preparatory, in SA it is called Reception, and in WA it is called Pre-Primary. Secondary education comprises Years 8 to 12.

Schooling structures across Australia in 2008
Diagram: Schooling structures across Australia in 2008

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 7 to 9, for examples of changes to schooling structures.


4 The age at which children may attend school is the subject of separate legislation within each jurisidiction. In 2008, 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 2008, 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, Vic., NT and ACT) or
  • reaching 16 years of age (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).