4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2014 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/02/2015   
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The structure of primary and secondary schooling in Australia differs between jurisdictions.

In 2014, the two basic patterns in formal schooling in Australia were:

  • In New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, primary school was Pre-Year 1 to Year 6, and secondary school consisted of Year 7 to Year 12.
  • In Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, primary school consisted of Pre-Year 1 to Year 7 and secondary school consisted of Year 8 to Year 12.

This pattern will change from 2015, when Year 7 will be considered secondary school in Queensland and Western Australia. As part of this transition, a number of schools in these states were piloting Year 7 in a secondary setting before 2015 to ensure the transition was smooth. This will leave South Australia as the only state or territory where Year 7 is provided in a primary setting. This will impact on reporting in next year’s release of Schools, Australia.

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), however these are excluded from the scope of the NSSC. Data on preschool education are available annually through Preschool Education, Australia (cat. no. 4240.0).


The age at which children must attend school is the subject of specific legislation within each state and territory. In 2014, 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 for Pre-Year 1 restrict enrolment to children aged between four and a half and five years at the beginning of the year. In South Australia, prior to 2014, most children started school at age five, and it was common for children to start school at the beginning of the school term following their fifth birthday. From 2014 onwards, children in South Australia commence school at the start of the year in which they turn five.

In addition, the National Youth Participation Requirement, which was effected through relevant state and territory legislation on January 1, 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 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 Requirement will continue in line with existing state and territory practice. For further information, see: <http://transitions.youth.gov.au>

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