Do you know what age your child is meant to start school? Surprisingly, the laws vary between states! Some are flexible and you may have a choice which year your child starts, whilst in other states the laws are quite strict on which year your child must start school.
Of course, the topic of school starting age is a heavily debated topic at present, with many believing Australian children are starting formal education much too young. A topic I will go into depth in a later post! In the meantime, check out what the current laws for your state are below.
Try not to get too confused by the names – depending which state you are in, the first year of school may be called Prep, Kindergarten, Pre-Primary or Reception!
Kindergarten – Children must be 5 years of age by 30th April in the year they commence.
It is compulsory to be in school by age 6.
Further info here and here from the ACT Government Education Directorate
Kindergarten – Children can start if they turn 5 on or before 31st July. Some parents will choose to wait until the following year.
It is compulsory for children to be enrolled in school by their 6th birthday.
Further info available at NSW Education
Preschool (optional) – Children must be 4 by the 30th June. In remote areas, children may commence preschool at age 3 with parental supervision until 3.5 years.
Transition (optional) – Children must be 5 years of age by the 30th June.
All children must be enrolled in school from the age of 6.
Further info here from the Northern Territory Government
Prep – Children must be 5 years of age by 30th June. Delaying by a year is allowed, and they must be in school by 6 years 6 months.
From 2017, children must do Prep prior to Year 1 (previously some families chose to skip the Prep year)
Further info from Queensland Government Preparing For Prep
Preschool (optional) – children must be 4 years of age by the 1st May.
Reception – children must be 5 years of age by 1st May.
All children must be in school by their 6th birthday.
Further info at South Australian Government School Life
Kindergarten (optional) – the year prior to Prep, for those who have turned 4 by the 1st January.
Prep - Children must start full-time schooling if they are 5 years by the 1st January.
Further info available at Tasmanian Government School Information for Parents
Prep – Children can start if they are 5 years of age by 30th April. Delaying until the following year is allowed.
It is compulsory to be at school in the year they turn 6.
Further info from Victoria State Government Education and Training
Kindergarten (optional) – children must be 4 years old by 30th June in the year they commence
Pre-Primary (compulsory) – children start pre-primary if they will be be 5 years old by 30th June. It is very uncommon for children to be allowed to delay to the following year.
Further info here from the Department of Education WA
Homeschooling is legal in all Australian states. While each state has their own rules and regulations around home education, generally families will need to register their home education intent and plan by compulsory ages (similar to above – usually around 6 years). I will explain this further in later blog posts.
What do you think of your state's laws? Surpised by how different they all are? Have you moved interstate and found the differences impacted your child? Comment below.
A mum of two trying to find her way through the Australian school system.