Starting School in Australia

When looking at starting school in Australia you need to look at the information that is relevant to the State that you are in, as the education is run by the State Governments.

Some differences include:

  • The initial year, before year One, may be called Prep or Kindergarten, it may be voluntary or compulsory.
  • The first year of secondary school may be year 7 or year 8.

Kindergarton, Prep, Preparatory Year, Reception Year, Transition, Pre Primary Year


The Preparatory (Prep) Year is the first year of school for your child. It is a non compulsory full-time program that runs five days per week, usually from 9am to 3pm each day. Your child is expected to attend full-time to get the most from the Prep Year.
Age is the only criterion for enrolment in the Prep Year for Queensland children.
Your child must be five by 30 June in the year they enrol in Prep.

South Australia

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The compulsory school starting age is five years. This means that a child who is at least five years old as at January 1 in any year must be enrolled in full-time Prep at a school or provided with home education unless exempted by the Secretary.


School is compulsory for all Victorian children aged between six and 15. Primary school is from grade prep (preparatory year) to grade six.

Western Australia

Although attendance at kindergarten and pre-primary is not compulsory (in accordance with the School Education Act 1999) more that 90% of children in Western Australia attend kindergarten and 95% of children attend a pre-primary program.

All States provide 5 full days of education in the year before year 1, although these are known by different names.

  • Western Australia Pre-primary
  • New South Wales Kindergarten
  • Victoria Preparatory
  • Queensland Prep
  • South Australia Reception
  • Tasmania Preparatory (compulsory)
  • ACT Kindergarten
  • Northern Territory Transition

More details will be shown at each individual State page:

  • ACT – Starting School in the Australian Capital Territory
  • NSW – Starting School in New South Wales
  • NT – Starting School in the Northern Territory
  • QLD – Starting School in Queensland
  • SA – Starting School in South Australia
  • TAS – Starting School in Tasmania
  • VIC – Starting School in Victoria
  • WA – Starting School in Western Australia

Links for official websites for Australian Education:

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