Starting Primary School in Australia – When to enrol the child in school?

Are you looking for at what age does a child start primary school in Australia? You will undoubtedly get confused with the answer you will get from different sources. The reason behind this is each state and territory in Australia has various starting ages for children. Depending on the state and territory in Australia, primary school may begin when the child is 5 or 6 years old. Australia has six states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia) and two territories Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Each Australian state and territory have its minimum age limit for starting school. Moreover, they have different names for the first year of primary school.

Starting Primary School  in AUSTRALIA - Kindergarten age VIC, NSW

You can find out about the current year and next year’s term dates for Australia’s state and territory government schools at the following link:

https://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/special-dates-and-events/school-term-dates

You should always contact schools directly about the specific dates for the admissions.

Starting Primary School in Australia – When to enroll

New South Wales (NSW)

In NSW, all children must be attending formal schooling before their sixth birthday. The first year of primary school is called Kindergarten in NSW. Children can enrol in compulsory Kindergarten at the beginning of the school year if they turn five before August 1.

The school year starts in late January after the summer break. 

You can get more information on starting school in NSW on the government website

Queensland (Qld)

The first year of primary schooling is called Prep in Queensland. It is compulsory in Qld to undertake prep before enrolling in year 1. There public primary schools’ rule for intake is that your child must turn five by 30 June in the year they are enrolled.

You can get more information at the Queensland official website.

South Australia (SA)

The first year of schooling is called Reception in SA. In South Australia, your child must be at school by their sixth birthday as this is the compulsory school starting age for Reception there. In South Australia, public primary schools’ rule for intake is:

  • If your child turns five before 1st May, they can start going to Reception from the first term of that year.
  • If your child turns five after 1st May, they can start going to Reception from the first term in the following year.

You can get more information at the SA government website.

Tasmania (Tas)

Within Tasmania, the first year of school is called Preparatory. If children turn five on or by 1 January, they must start prep class at the beginning of that school year. If they are four years of age, they can begin their kindergarten class.

All children must be attending school from the year they turned five.

You can get more information at the Tasmania government website.

Victoria (Vic)

In Vic, all children must register in school by the time they turn six. The first year is called Preparatory in Victoria.

Children can commence compulsory Preparatory at the beginning of the school year if they turn five before 30 April.

The school year starts in late January. 

You can get more information on starting school in Victoria on the government website.

Northern Territory (NT)

In NT, school is compulsory from the age of six. However, your child can attend preschool when the kid turns four years old. The first year of primary schooling is called Transition in NT.

If your child turns five on or before 30 June, your child can attend the Transition from the start of the school year. If your child turns five after 30 June, they will attend school from the beginning of the next school year.

You can get more information about this at the NT Government website.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

In the ACT, the first year of formal schooling is called Kindergarten. If a child turns four before 1 May, they can start preschool at the beginning of the school year. If a child turns five before 1 May, they can start going to Kindergarten at the beginning of the school year.

In the ACT, children must enrol in school before age six. However, you can apply for delayed enrolment for your child for an exemption. The school year starts in late January.

You can get more information at the ACT government website.

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