Starting/Leaving Ages

Every child, from the year after they turn 5 must be enrolled at and attending school, or an approved home education program. Children can also attend Kindergarten from 4 years of age.

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

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. Year 10 students during 2019 are the first group of young people who will need to meet this increased minimum leaving requirement.


  • Kindergartens are play-based learning led by a registered teacher guided by the Early Years Learning Framework.
  • If your child is four 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 half day or full day depending on the school.

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 three years of age (the year before Kindergarten). For more information, see the Working Together – Supporting Early Learning initiative.

School leaving age

  • From 2020, all young people must participate in education or training until they complete Year 12, attain a Certificate III, or they turn 18 years of age, whichever occurs first.
  • After Year 10, a young person can choose any of the following education and training options, or a combination of these options if the provider/s allow:
    • 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.

Exemption from attending compulsory school

  • If your child has participated in pre-school activities (such as Launching into Learning/Kindergarten) and you feel that your child is not ready for compulsory school (Prep) at age 5, you should discuss options with the school principal at your local school. A request for an exemption can be made from Term 4 onwards using the Exemption from Attending School form.
  • 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.

Home education

  • Parents may exercise educational choice to register as home educators, thereby assuming responsibility for delivering education during their children’s compulsory years of schooling.
  • The registration of home education is managed by the Office of the Education Registrar, ph 6165 6135 or email

Where can I get more information?