Today, Elizabeth went back to school after the two-week winter holiday break. Elizabeth is 11 years old, she is in Grade 6 which is her final year of primary school and next year, in January, she will go to high school for her secondary education.
High school will give her another six years of education, taking her from Grade 7 to Grade 12.
Going right back to the beginning, Elizabeth started school in January 2009. Here is a quick flashback to see what that looked like…
January is the beginning of the school year here and Elizabeth was 4 3/4 years of age at that time. The reason she started in 2009 was because she would had turned five before 30th of June in that year, her birthday is in March.
Had her birthday been after 30 June 2009, then she wouldn’t have started school until January 2010. Her first year in school here in Queensland was called the ‘Prep Year’ and it is followed by a further six years of primary school education taking her from Grade 1 to Grade 6.
So, as you can see, she will have had seven years of primary school education followed by six years in high school.
Pretty simple, huh?
So, now the question.
At what age do children start school in Australia?
This should, you would have thought, been a simple question to answer. It isn’t though; it is made complicated because when a child starts school is decided individually by states and territories, it’s not nationally universal.
In Australia, children start in ‘Prep Year’ which, once again, is slightly complicated by the different names used in the different states. What was generally called ‘Playschool’ or ‘Nursery School’ in the UK, is variously called ‘Preschool’, “Reception”, “Pre-primary”, “Kindy” and who knows what else here in Australia.
The “Prep Year” is either voluntary or compulsory, again, depending on the state or territory. If you have a child at “Prep Year” age, it’s best to check this information directly on the relevant education department’s website. Most do say though that if you don’t feel your child is ready for school yet, you can speak to them about delaying attendance for one year if necessary.
The states and territories can also change the rules at any time, as some have done in the past. As far as I’m aware though, the information I have here is currently correct.
State and Territory analysis
Let’s talk about that first year at primary school, the ‘Prep Year’, the year of schooling that comes before Grade 1. Remember, the school year here starts towards the end of January.
Starting ages for “Prep Year” by States and Territories:
- In Tasmania your child must be 5 years old by 1 January in the year in which they start school.
- In Victoria and the ACT, your child must be 5 years old by 30 April in the year in which they start school.
- In South Australia your child must be 5 years old by 1 May in the year in which they start school.
- In Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, your child must be 5 years old by 30 June in the year in which they start school.
- In New South Wales your child must be 5 years old by 31 July in the year in which they start school.
Once a child has completed Prep Year, the following year they will start in Grade 1 and they will be around 17 when they reach their final year, which is Grade 12.
In all states and territories, your child can attend an early childhood education and care service prior to commencing state school. Fees will most likely apply. You can use the mychild.gov.au website to search for Australian Government-approved services.
There, that wasn’t too bad was it?
Of course, it doesn’t end there. When secondary education is over there is tertiary education. That’s Universities, TAFE colleges and Vocation Education and Training/VET providers.
When I’ve recovered from this article, maybe I’ll take a look at that.
State and Territory education websites
Clicking on any one of the following links should take you to the relevant page:
Post update 28th of August 2017 to hopefully simplify it and include some recent changes.