4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2011 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/02/2012   
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The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia varies between states and territories and over time. See Explanatory Notes for more information on changes to schooling structures over time. The two basic patterns evident in formal schooling in Australia in 2011 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
    • 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 (Foundation Year in Australian Curriculum) 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.
Each state and territory has a preschool sector which is excluded from reporting on primary and secondary schooling through Schools, Australia (ABS cat. no 4221.0). Data on preschool education is available annually, as of 2010, through Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4240.0).


The age at which children may attend school is the subject of separate legislation within each state and territory. In 2011, the age at which a child's attendance at school became 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.

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

    a mandatory requirement for all young people that 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: <http://www.deewr.gov.au/youth/YouthAttainmentandTransitions/Pages/Home.aspx>.


Graphic: Primary and Secondary grade structures by State and Territory