Starting school

From the year after they turn 5, every child must be enrolled and attending school, or an approved home education program.

This means that a child who has turned 5 on or by 1 January in any year must start Prep in that year, or receive approved home education.

Children can also attend Kindergarten from 4 years of age.

Leaving school

From 2020, young people need to stay in education or training until they:

  • finish Year 12, or
  • receive a Certificate III, or
  • reach the new minimum leaving age of 18

whichever happens first.

After Year 10, a young person can choose any of the following education and training options, or a combination of these options (if they are offered by the provider):

  • Years 11 and 12 at any government or non-government school or college, or tertiary provider – this may include an Australian School-based Apprenticeship
  • a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification through any registered training organisation
  • an apprenticeship or traineeship with an employer.

Young people with full-time employment, or other specific circumstances, can apply for an exemption to allow them to leave education and training.

Before Kindergarten

  • Schools offer programs to support families and young children before Kindergarten.
  • These include Birth to 5 initiatives, Launching into Learning, and pre-Kindergarten sessions.
  • Parents and children attend these sessions together.
  • From 2020, eligible children with the greatest need children will be able to attend pre-school from 3 years of age (the year before Kindergarten). For more information, see the Working Together – Supporting Early Learning initiative.


  • Kindergartens are play-based learning led by a registered teacher guided by the Early Years Learning Framework.
  • If your child is 4 years old on or by 1 January in any year, they can go to Kindergarten.
  • Your child will be able to attend Kindergarten for 15 hours a week.
  • Sessions may be a half day or full day, depending on what the school offers.

Exemption from attending compulsory school

  • If your child has participated in pre-school activities (such as Launching into Learning/Kindergarten) and you don’t think they are ready for compulsory school (Prep) at age 5, you should discuss options with the principal at your local school.
  • In specific individual circumstances, young people can seek an exemption from the requirement for compulsory education and training by completing the Application for Exemption from Attending School Form (PDF, 501KB).

Home education

  • Under the Education Act 2016, parents can use educational choice to register as home educators.  This means they assume responsibility for delivering education to their children during their compulsory years of schooling.
  • The registration of home education is managed by the Office of the Education Registrar (OER).
  • To find out more, visit the OER website or call 6165 6135.

Where can I get more information?

  • For more information about when a child can start or leave school– talk to your child’s teacher or principal.
  • For information about requirements to participate in education and training – visit the Education and Training after Year 10 page.