Structure - Primary & Secondary Education

The Australian education system can be more easily explained if it is divided into two parts. The first part provides primary and secondary education; the second part provides tertiary education. School education is similar across all of Australia with only minor variations between states and territories.

Education – Primary and Secondary Education

Primary and secondary school education is compulsory in Australia between the ages of six and sixteen (Year 1 to Year 9 or 10).

School education is 13 years and divided into three parts:

Primary School

School in Australia starts with a Foundation Year – the year before Year 1, which is known in different states and territories as Kindergarten, Preparatory Year, Pre-primary, Transition or Reception. Primary School runs for seven or eight years, starting at the Foundation Year through to Year 6 or 7, depending on the individual school structure.

Secondary School

Secondary School follows Primary School and runs for three of four years, from Years 7 to 10 or Years 8 to 10, depending on the state and individual school structure.

Senior Secondary School

Senior Secondary School runs for two years, Years 11 and 12, and is sometimes called a College in some states and territories. Senior Secondary School can be part of Secondary School, that is a school might run from Year 7 or 8 all the way through to Year 12. In such cases the whole school might then be referred to as a College.

In the senior secondary years, students can study for the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (commonly referred to as Year 12 Certificate), which is required for entry by most Australian universities and vocational education and training institutions. It is also recognised as an entry requirement by many international universities.


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